There are some plants that cause a reaction in some
people, but not everyone.
Many beautiful plants have an evil potential to
cause painful, itchy or blistering rashes. Looks are deceiving.
Here's a list of what to watch out for when weeding, pruning, hiking or taking a
Itch and irritation is caused by
brushing against a common plant, like poison ivy.
But there are
many other plants that can cause contact dermatitis — skin
inflammation cause by an irritant or a substance that produces an
allergic reaction — or short-term burning or itching. Some of these
plants can cause a severe reaction and blistering.
might find giant hogweed, baby's breath, leadwort, stinging nettle, and
ragweed growing in their own gardens.
Some very pretty ornamental and
harbor a potential for pain.
popular flowers, plants and crops that can
cause allergic reactions or injury when handled
and hot peppers
Below is a national
map provided by the USDA of commonly-found
and invasive plants and weeds that cause irritation specific to region
There are many
others that you might be allergic or sensitive to. For instance, pine sap gives me
itchy hives and swelling, but it's not considered to be
something very common.. Following a jaunt
to pick out my live Christmas Tree, I had an itchy and painful rash that
lingered for hours, even
after washing it off. I had to decorate while wearing gloves when
reaching into the branches.
The leaves and branches of the tomato plant drive me mad with itching,
while I'm picking or pruning.
Injury to the skin is common from
exposure to thorns, cactus spines, and spiny or sharp leaves, a popular
culprit is stinging nettles. Punctures from rose thorns are well known.
There are also thorns on the ornamental shrub barberry, and on some
The tips of holly
leaves are sharp enough to puncture the skin.
Spines from cacti
are strong enough to do the same. Even small, nearly invisible
"hairs" on cacti can be strong enough to puncture skin. I got
rid of most of my outdoor cacti for this reason. Two layers of gloves
didn't prevent the hairs from attaching to the skin.
Fibers on tulip and daffodil bulbs can cause injury, as can nearly
invisible hairs on dogwood leaves.
puncture itself is the only injury. In other cases, histamine is
released; there is a puncture wound, plus local itching. Any
break in the skin can lead to infection.
ivy (Hedera helix and related species) can cause an
allergic skin reaction. Allergic reactions have been reported in gardeners after trimming
English ivy and in children who played with English ivy or climbed trees
covered with it. Itching, rashes, and weepy blisters can occur.
Some plants can lead to injury if
sap or juice gets onto skin, and then that skin is exposed to sunlight.
A red rash and possible blisters. As the skin heals, the affected
areas may become much darker than usual; these darkened areas may take
weeks or months to fade.
itchy and blistery skin reactions
When gardening or doing yard
work, cover as much skin as you can.
Wearing gardening gloves can
prevent many plant materials from piercing your skin. Long pants and
sleeves can prevent the
rashes that occur when pieces of grass, weeds, poison ivy, and other
plant materials are thrown back forcefully onto skin when
Avoid touching your face and
eyes when working with outdoor plants.
irritation, allergic reactions, and light-sensitivity are all
possible effects of exposure to certain plants – not just poison ivy
Poison ivy - The most popular
aggressive and unpopular guest wherever it can hide. It grows along roadsides, on fences, in
backyards. Poison ivy leaves grow in clusters of three on vines that can
grow up into trees or trail along the ground. Every part of the plant
contains the compound urushiol, which causes poison ivy’s rash — the vine, the roots, the leaves, the flowers, and the
Poison oak is not related to oak
trees, although its mature leaves somewhat resemble those of an English
oak. Like poison ivy, poison oak is found throughout the United States,
and it grows in forests as well as in dry spots, like sandy fields.
Poison oak has deep green leaves that grow in clusters of three on a
firm stem. Its yellow flowers are often described as hairy, and its
berries, fuzzy (unlike poison ivy’s smooth berries).
Like poison ivy, every part
of a poison oak plant contains urushiol in all seasons, meaning that any
part of the plant can cause an itchy rash and blisters if you come into contact with it.
Poison Ivy Prevention
suggestions when handling all irritating plants and weeds
Note about burning
poison ivy and other plants that cause irritation - DON'T DO IT!!! The inhaled smoke
carries the airborne toxins and histamines into your lungs, and itching
or painful blisters can form.
This is serious!
Use plastic or heavy shopping bags to pull plants from the soil,
replacing the bags with the pulling of each plant. Plastic bags can also
be used to cover arms for additional protection during the removal
Get to the root Any lingering shoots or seedlings can be killed with white
Cover up Keep skin as covered as possible to avoid any potential contact.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
Common weeds and plants found in
open areas, along roadsides,
near creeks, ponds meadows, and woods, that can hurt you
poison ivy and poison oak
This perennial’s stinging hairs contain toxins that cause skin
irritation upon contact. Both the leaves and stems have tiny
irritating hairs. Stinging Nettle is also grown on purpose for it's
seasonal allergies, the plant can also cause skin irritation.
is a shrub that’s often planted as a hedge. It's a very pretty plant.
If you come into contact with the shrub’s sap, leaves, stems, or
roots, you may experience a skin reaction that causes blistering and a
rash. This plant has a climbing growth habit, and has flower clusters
that can be blue, white, or pink.
Hogweed - the pretty plant pictured at the top of this page.....
This invasive plant can cause serious skin irritation and
An invader from Asia, giant hogweed was introduced to the U.S. in the
early 20th century and is now growing throughout the
northeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. It's a giant member of the carrot
family, growing as tall as 14 feet or more, with hollow stems 2-4 inches
in diameter and large compound leaves as much as five feet wide. The
tiny white flowers grow in clusters similar to the flower heads of Queen
Anne's lace, but much larger.
sap of this umbrella-shaped tall plant, with large flower clusters, can
cause severe skin irritation in some people. If you get giant hogweed
sap on your skin and stay in the sun, the combination of the two can
lead to painful skin blisters. In some people, the sap can also produce
black or purple scarring, and in some serious cases, blindness after
rubbing your eyes.
the skin is exposed to hogweed sap, it’ll be more sensitive to the
sun. This sun sensitivity can continue for years. If you encounter giant
hogweed sap, be sure to cover the area until you can get out of the sun
and wash off the clear, watery fluid as soon as possible. Serious
irritation or contact with your eyes requires a visit to your doctor.
The wild parsnip is an aggressively invasive, non-native found
throughout the eastern U.S. It tends to colonize disturbed sites
quickly. It grows 2-5 feet tall, with tooth-edged basal leaves and small
yellow flowers that grow in a cluster, similar to Queen Anne’s lace.
Chemicals in the sap contains photo-sensitizing chemical compounds that
are activated by ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. Exposure produces
Cow Parsnip Cow parsnip is native to North America. It is also known as
American cow-parsnip, Satan celery, Indian celery, Indian rhubarb. It
can grow to 10 ft. tall, in wet areas and in ditches. These are actually
edible, but I wouldn't touch them, much less eat them.
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American Academy of Dermatology
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation