Euphorbia Toxicity.

FerocactusLatispinus(Zone 4/Sunset 43 WI)October 10, 2012

I knew euphorbias are toxic in general, but I decided to search out how bad some of them really are. I was looking around and found this great website! Not only does it give descriptions of the toxicity and effects of the many species, but provides a ton of real-life accounts of encounters with the latex. I have yet to read it all! Enjoy!

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That's a really great site. But now im wondering if my recent acquisition of e.graniticola is anything like e.grantii? Doubt it but I dont see the graniticola on their list.

I have had a e.trigona for a couple of years and knew it could be irritating but I have been lucky enough to not have experienced that yet and hopefully never do!

Thanks for the link!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 12:20AM
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FerocactusLatispinus(Zone 4/Sunset 43 WI)

Your welcome!

Yeah, I didn't see a species in the list myself: E. obesa. I suppose that's nice, because it is such an aesthetic and, at maturity, lucrative plant.

I never imagined so many euphorbias were so poisonous! A lot do have a rather ominous look, though, with their black round spines and gnarly appearance.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 8:00AM
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I actually was not impressed by this somewhat useless list of statements of toxicity without any factual data. And to me, it is more of a testament of how relatively weak Euphorbia toxins are- most comments are about ocular damage (no surprise there- how many people have had ocular damage from a yucca or cactus?) or dermatitis. Actual numbers of deaths from Euphorbias are extremely rare... compare this with deaths from truly toxic plants like Caster Bean, Poison Hemlock or Oleander. I have treated pets for toxic reactions to plants and have yet to see more than a mild amount of vomiting from a Euphorbia.. but seen a lot of dogs die from cycad poisoning, and a few from other random toxic plants. Euphorbiaceae is a humongous family of plants with literally thousands of species... it has some of the most commonly kept plants in cultivation...all are toxic... and yet cases of serious poisoning (other than the eye and skin problems) are almost unheard of. There are far more dangerous and toxic plants in the world and even in our back yards. I think the whole Euphorbia toxicity thing is way overexaggerated.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 5:04AM
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That's just what the Euphorbias want us to think.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 10:47PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

For years there was a Euphorbia ingens with a bite mark out of it, right at the front door. My husband came home after partaking in a quantity of fermented Agave and bit it. Beautiful teeth pattern . His lips never did any blistering and was not worse for wear, BUT but his breath was horrid, his head pounded and he never got out of bed the next morning. I think that was the Agave juice's fault. YUCK. He bit the neighborhood dog for barking that night and pulled the porch off the house and tossed it in the neighbors yard . Down hill, small porch. Stabbed the old vintage refrigerator.kicked the old ceramic space heater and a few other things..... Bad night good story to tell the kids. That was a LONG time ago.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 11:25PM
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FerocactusLatispinus(Zone 4/Sunset 43 WI)

I quite agree there are far more dangerous plants out there(and not so far away as we think!). That's also true that animals can be less affected by certain plant toxins than humans. I often see warning labels on Madagascar Palms, and other poisonous plants at stores, often for the sake of pets and for humans. Any poisoning from anything is sure to be a nasty experience, but I'd personally prefer taking stinging nettle, poison ivy, or oak over caustic latex!

On another note, being a catfish enthusiast, I hear people say cats can sting you, but those are really just odontodes. There are some, however, that can deliver! I've seen Arius species in pet stores, and those have venom in their dorsal spines. I've read the pain and wounding can be just as bad as, if not worse than, a stingray's. Being saltwater cats, you get a lot of encounters with these in marine fishing, particularly off shallow water. I was considering getting one for my aquarium, but since they only do well in brackish or saltwater, have venom, and, like most cats, are challenging to safely handle w/o geting stabbed, I passed! But they can grow to over a foot and the dorsal spine a couple inches long. Take a look at some catfish bones, particularly Platydoras armatulus! Not unlike a nice steak knife!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 5:41PM
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First, let it be known that the most important thing to come out of this thread is that, clearly, the agave is the most dangerous plant in natural history ;)

Second, though, the caster bean plant actually IS in the Euphorbia family, and its omission is odd considering it's up there with rosary peas and oleanders in terms of toxicity, and is probably the single most toxic plant in the entire family.

(All things considered, I think that most plant saps would have the potential to be an eye irritant).

"Any poisoning from anything is sure to be a nasty experience, but I'd personally prefer taking stinging nettle, poison ivy, or oak over caustic latex!"

Question for people who've had reactions to both poison ivy and euphorbia latex: Which is worse?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 12:01AM
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I have had poison Oak (no poison ivy this side of the country) several times.. once pretty bad... I was hospitalized briefly since my face was so swollen and oozing I literally could not function.. I was in misery for a week. Had to have steroids and antibiotic creams and I could not stop itching... it was beyond horrible.

I have had Euphorbia sap on me no less than a couple hundred times, sometimes in very large quantities (such as after trimming a large Euphorbia ingens), and though the few times I got it in my eye were no fun, it only bothered me a few hours. Sap feels like a sun burn, but it goes away fast, too. Sap in my hair is probably the worst as it sometimes requires cutting ones hair to remove it (never a good look)- nearly impossible to wash out. And sap on clothing leaves a permanent mark, too... also gums up my tools badly, but that at least can be cleaned off.

I will take Euphorbias over poison oak anytime!

I would also much rather eat a Euphorbia than any other a couple dozen other much more toxic plants out there. At least there is an excellent chance I won't die... just puke a lot. I can't imagine eating much of anything toxic is much fun... though I have heard the deadly amanita mushrooms actually taste rather good... but kill you faster than just about any toxic plant there is (guess mushrooms technically are not plants... but they LOOK like plants).

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 12:49AM
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Apparently, toxic amanitas kill you fairly slowly. It's just that you don't realize what happened until your guts have already turned to mush.

And then you die.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:34PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I don't know amccour, sugarcane might give agave a bit of a challenge for that title, lol.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 8:18PM
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I guess everyone has different tolerances to Euphorbia latex. As much as I respect what the good doctor has to say regarding Euphorbia toxicity, I can only go by my own personal experience.

More than three years ago, after getting a drop or two of latex from the weed, Euphorbia cyparissias on my fingers, I was basically bedridden for 3 days, 3 days of hell, one eye completely swollen shut, one almost so, lips swollen, water filled itchy blisters over a good deal of my body which left me unable to rest or to sleep, and it was several more before I recovered fully...

Poison ivy is fun compared to what I went through with that Euphorbia latex.

Pictures speak a thousand words.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 10:08PM
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Man, every time I see that pic (3x now) I feel empathy for you, but I do like the rockin' tropical shirt. The worst I've had has been some appendage burns. I was very fortunate to be lucky / skillful / wearing PPE when pruning my friend's 25-30' tall E. ingens.

And you deserve a medal for that - some sort of succulent recognition for your service to the textbook-example instance of what can happen when you mess with Euphorbia Jones.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 12:29PM
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Looks like you went 12 rounds! WoW!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:00PM
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Bonjour, mon ami Jeff. I knew you would remember this one, not easy for me to forget, either! That being said, I still love Euphorbia, and once bitten, won't let a drop of latex touch my skin for a few seconds now. We live and learn.

Lets go old style, and say 15 rounds!


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:42PM
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FerocactusLatispinus(Zone 4/Sunset 43 WI)

Definitely, everyone comprehends levels of pain differently. No two persons are the same.
That's absolutely right, Chris, that one of the the best ways we can relate to or relay anything is by referring back to our own experiences!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:38PM
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I can only touch the roots in re-potting I have several types and I do not know the names and most are the crested type but I know when I am finished re potting and wash my hands after each plant afterward in about 2 hours just touching the roots and a good clean up my hands feel like they have a plastic coating on them weird I know so I am very careful when they The cactus start acting weird if they do not get repaired fast and healed they are trashed and double sealed because I dont want any animal or another person getting hurt.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 7:47PM
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I'm just saying trying to judge the toxicity if a substance based off of personal experiences is pointless. There are people that would die if they ate a single peanut yet I can eat a whole jar with no adverse effects, that doesn't mean they are not or are dangerous. When I was a kid I used to get poison ivy so bad I'd have to go to the dr to get prednisone shots, take it orally and use a very strong cortisone cream. Now I just get the typical itchy spots for a week and treat with a Rx.

I'm sure some euphorbia will kill in certian circumstances and cause no effect from the same plant in others. That's all.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:27PM
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Easier to exercise cautions when handling toxic plants than to follow some opinionated false hopes that a known toxic plant might not have any effect for one person or another.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 2:49AM
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