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 nature walk.

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.

Gardeners might find giant hogweed, baby's breath, leadwort, stinging nettle, and ragweed growing in their own gardens. 
Some very pretty ornamental and food plants harbor a potential for pain.

Some popular flowers, plants and crops that can 
cause allergic reactions or injury when handled

Anemone clematis English Ivy
daisies snow-on-the-mountain hellebore
Strawberry Tomato Chili and hot peppers


Any Cactus

Rose hips

dogwood leaves
Tulip bulbs

Daffodil bulbs

Hyacinth bulbs

Baby's Breath

Barberry carrots
parsnips dill fennel

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 fruit trees. 

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. 
Sometimes, the 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.

English 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. 

Preventing these 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 weed-whacking.
  • Avoid touching your face and eyes when working with outdoor plants.

Chemical 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 berries.

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
Follow these 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!

Plastic bag icon
Plastic bags
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 process.

Plant roots icon
Get to the root
Any lingering shoots or seedlings can be killed with white vinegar.

Tshirt icon
Cover up
Keep skin as covered as possible to avoid any potential contact. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

Rinse hands icon
Rinse repeatedly
After removal or exposure to poison ivy, rinse any exposed skin with cool water immediately (avoid hot water, soap or harsh scrubbing), and wash clothes immediately. 
Follow this  procedure for all exposure to irritating plants.

Common weeds and plants found in open areas, along roadsides, 
near creeks, ponds meadows, and woods, that can hurt you

Besides poison ivy and poison oak

Wood Nettle/Stinging Nettle
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 medicinal value. 

Besides seasonal allergies, the plant can also cause skin irritation. 

Leadwort (Plumbago)
Leadwort 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.

Giant Hogweed - the pretty plant pictured at the top of this page.....
This invasive plant can cause serious skin irritation and blistering. 
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.

The 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. 

Once 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.

Wild parsnip 
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 burn-like blisters.

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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Info Sources:

American Academy of Dermatology
Dermatology World
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Buddha Serenity Garden

Native American 
Three Sisters Gardening

USDA National Cold Hardiness Zone Map
Plan Before You Plant

Easy Butterfly Garden

Veggies That Thrive in Shady Spots

Medieval and Castle Gardens

Mediterranean Diet Garden

Easy Square Foot Gardens

Easy Native Plant Garden Plans

Dwarf Fruit Trees In Pots Raised Bed Square Foot Gardens

Natural Path of The Green Witch

Canning Fruit and Preserves

Garden Design Plans

Foraging The Wild in Pennsylvania
African American Heritage Botanical Mythology
and Nature Folklore

Pa. Vegetable Planting and Harvest
Zones 5-7

Yoga, Prayer and Meditation Gardens

The Original Victory Garden Growing Baby Melons
Design an Authentic 
Sacred Mary Garden
Free .pdf Downloads
 - Vintage Garden and Canning Publications
Pennsylvania Native Plants
Zones 5&6
Ornamental Gourd
 and Winter Squash Gardens

Quick Guide-Storing Your Harvest

Grow A Native American Medicine Wheel

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