Euphorbias and kids

I hear Euphorbias are poisonous. I have one in my yard and I have 3 young children. Should I go and tear it out? Is it poisonous to the point of being dangerous? How much would a 2 year old have to ingest for it to do harm? I love the tree but not enough to risk getting the kids sick. Thanks.
Adan
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How much Euphorbia do you intend to feed the 2 year old.
Why don't you just tell your stupid kids not to pick the flowers and leave it at that. Raising free range toddlers is not a good idea anyway. The boogie man might run off with them when you're not looking.
All of the plants in your garden are poisonous one way or another. If you want to have a completely plant toxin free environment then have everything removed and have the entire yard paved in concrete?
The problem is that concrete might be toxic to children too!!!!

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The poinsettia is a euphorbia also, by the way. The real question, I think, however, is, "Do you really think your 2-year-old would chomp on your plants?" If so, then supervise until the child is old enough to know better.
Good luck! Suzy O, Zone 5 Wisconsin

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Do not let your child unsupervised in the garden, and teach them to never put anything from a plant in their mouths unless you've put it on a plate for them! There are lots of poisonous plants out there, it's up to parents to teach their children how to be safe out there.
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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Brilliant! Tell my children not to touch them! I never thought of that. Oh wait, what about my friends children? I'll have to remember to tell them too. Then there's my nieces and nephews, I better call them ahead of time since they usually just arrive and go straight to playing in the yard (not "garden" but yard, as in for playing on!). Oh, I almost forgot..My neighbor's kids play out there near that planter. Got it! I'll just hang a sign on it "DANGER! DO NOT TOUCH!", a little barbed wire and I'm all set.
Maybe it would be simpler to just buy plants that are kid friendly and not hazards. Just because I keep close tabs on my children doesnt mean it's okay to build a pool without a fence does it? There is always the same response from people when it comes to advice about kids "Just control your kids". As though if children everywhere could just be controlled somehow we could just do whatever we want. Janet, thanks for sharing your personal experience with the plant. It sounds like I should find it a new home. See, my "garden" is for the kids to enjoy, not for the kids to observe. If they kick the soccer ball into the plant, I dont want them to have to call me to go get it because they dont want their arms to blister and bleed again! But I'm sure all of your kids dont kick balls into places where they are not allowed, right?
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No such thing. Even if they don't die from the frightful toxicity in an apple seed, they certainly could choke to death on one bite. And while you won't find even one case of any child's death by euphorbia, you will find plenty of cases of death by choking on safe foods & small objects.

Just because it would be irresponsible to chuck your child off the roof doesn't mean it's irresponsible to have a garden. Chances are you have fifteen plants in toddling distance that are more toxic than a euphorbia. If you can't teach your kid how to safely interact with the world, maybe you should just chuck him off the roof & be done with it.

List all the other plants you have & I'll find reasons more credible than Janet's medically improbable phytophotosensitivity for chucking everything BUT the euphorbia. I guarantee you're missing the real dangers in the environment. If you wanna buy into Janet's claim that euphorbias cause phytophotosensitivity, maybe you'd better also worry about the plants that are actually associated with this condition. Worry about kids getting into the celery, lettuce, figs, beans, citruses, tansies, & asters -- because while euphorbias are not associated with phytophotosensitivity, all those others have been known to cause it. Scary, scary celery -- no responsible mom would even let her kid inside a grocery store that has any of it, let alone bring any home. People may think you're a loony, but it's the kids' safety that matters, & since celery is known to induce photosensitivity & euphorbia is not, you should certainly be more paranoid about celery.

You let your kids play soccer!?!? My god! Shame on you! Don't you know how many kids get seriously injured playing soccer??!!! There's no plant they'll fall on that is even one-one-hundredth as associated with injury & death. Even just running, jeez, they could run slam into a tree or soccer goal post & break their necks. And how many kids are just dead cuz they followed a soccer ball into a street? Mommy can't be there all the time after all, tellin' 'em not to run out in front of trucks might not be enough.
The National Academy of Science ranks soccer among the leading causes of child brain injury, some that result in death. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment warns that even wearing a helmet won't protect children from concussions & brain injuries playing soccer. That euphorbia is a healthfood product compared to soccer, but you worry they might fall on something relatively innocuous while playing a game that could render them braindead???
If it's sensible to get rid of plants with caustic latex (that includes dandylions by the way -- any dandylions in the neighborhood? Oh no!) then it's sensible to hobble the kids so they can never run, & never let them play any game that might involve any moving objects. I recommend you sew the kids tight between two mattresses & let them breathe through a tube, but be careful or they might choke on the tube.
Oh, & trusted Uncle Neddy -- you don't wanna know the stats on how likely a guy like that is to be safe around the kids. Be afraid! Of everything. Be VERY afraid.
-paghat the ratgirl
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huerochingon wrote:

Well, I've never had that kind of problem with my kids and grandkids, nor with their friends. Maybe living up here in the wilds of Northern Ontario, where we seem to absorb a healthy respect for non-human nature, had something to do with it.... :-)
Seriously, it's essential to teach kids a healthy wariness. In my experience, it's not that hard. Basically, you just model (and explain) safe behaviour. Then they'll believe you when you say, "If you touch that stuff without gloves, you will probably get nasty blisters..." OTOH, if your kids ignore your Don't Touch, you have problems that no amount of advice on this forum will help.
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No, you're brilliant. As a matter of fact, I think your kids should eat everything they can get their hands on, that way Darwin can take over and people who shouldn't have gardens will die off.........
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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Now we see the problem isn't so much the kids as it you are an obsessive crazed maniac. If you insist on obsessing on "what if", why even bother getting out of bed? Why have a garden at all if you can't enjoy it? Maybe someone should put a fence around you?
Its time to have your meds changed, sweetpea.

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Wow! turns out maybe paghat knows what she's talking about! See Janet! why are you freaking me out about Euphorbias! they're harmless! paghat puts them in her salad for christ sake! whew! This is great, I am thrilled! I had my mind all set and was all excited about Euphorbia Characias billowing out from behind my Octopus Agave and Nassella Tennuissimas until JANET got me all worked up! Thanks Janet! No really, thanks Janet but it sounds like your doctor needs to do a little more research before diagnosing stuff. Thanks all for a brief and rather rude lesson in photowhatchacallit and dermawhoziwatsits. I have to run. El Native Growers closes in 30 minutes and I have some very dangerous plants to pick up! Thanks Paghat.
By the way, I'm not paranoid. I'm a tatooed, surfing, mountain biking dad who frequently picks up unidentified snakes and throws them out of the garage and who lets his kids ride in the truck bed as I drive (slowly) down dirt roads looking for a fishing spot. I just also happen to be ignorant to things like photosensitivity and euphorbias. So when I heard it was poisonous, toxic, noxious and could explode at any second I thought taking it out would be the good-dad thing to do. I love my girls. And they are VERY well-behaved, they make me proud. Please dont call them stupid, even if their dad is a bit dense. I'm glad I have all of you to rip me a new ***hole when I get it wrong though. What a welcome to rec.gardens!
:-) Adan
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by the way, was this a flame? (excitedly) did i just experience my first flame? yes! I'm also new to usenet as you can tell. Reading back though, I think I started it! Oops! sorry everyone! Oh no, am I a flamer? It was a mistake. I was trying to be funny. Next time I'll use JK or something.
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No. A heated discussion inclusive of a kick in the pants is not the same as flaming.
-paggers

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huerochingon wrote:

Aw, gee, we didn't know... :-) Apologies for jumping to conclusions.
But letting the girls ride in the truck bed? Goish golly gee, that's we used to do when I was a kid. Didn't harm us none neither. :-)
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from snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) contains these words:

Well, no, it's not short-term and it's worse than a rash. Euphorbia sap commonly causes skin photosensitivity, which can last several years. The initial effect is like a burn, a hot sore watery blister. That breaks down then heals up, with much itching, bu the next time the previously-injured patch of skin is exposed to sunlight, it blisters all over again, and the cycle is repeated. On white skin, the pigmentation is affected for even longer than the photosensitivity reaction.
I don't have particularly sensitive skin, but developed this while handling euphorbia. I was wearing a tee shirt and gloves, my bare arms between the glove and the shirt were just repeatedly brushing against the euphorbia leaves ...no contact with white sap at all. Within hours that area was covered in wet blisters like a burn. That recurred all summer. The following summer, I was still getting some itchy sun reaction. The dark pigmentation change lasted several years after that.
I still grow lots of euphorbias but I'm extremely careful to avoid any skin contact at all. A child would not need to eat the plant to be affected; just falling against one and breaking stems/leaves could have very painful consequences.
Janet
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"Commonly causes skin photosensitivity" -- that's one you'll have to document.
Plant-induced photosensitivity can be caused by ingesting very large amounts of certain herbal remedies such as St John's Wart, or from ingesting or physical contact with plants of a few family groups that do not include euphorbias -- & it's a well-studied area so if euphorbias were one of the problem plants for photosensitivity PubMed would reaveal it.
It's an EXTREMELY rare adverse reaction in any event, & a search of PubMed finds no such cases involving euphorbia. So you'd have to be LOTS more specific than this -- specific species, medically documented incidents -- as it sounds alarmist based on something rare even for the most caustic latex of highly toxic tropical euphorbias, & saying "euphorbias" all inclusively is like saying "Liquids under burn your eyes out."
Phytophotodermatitis from contact with plants though not specially associated with euphorbias can involve a number of plants in any garden & foods in the refrigerator. This response is generally are seen only in individuals who already have liver or skin conditions that cause chronic photosensitivity from all sorts of things, like exposure to orange peals or soap.
In the top-ten genuses that are associated with this rare response, there are no euphorbias; the majority of these rare cases are associated with citris, beans, & most especially plants of the Umbelliferae family including celery. Oh no! scary celery!
Although euphorbias are not on the list of plants that can cause photosensitivity in humans, these are: Queen Ann's Lace, parsnip, cow parsnip/hodgweed (Heracleum spondylium), celery, lime (decreasingly, other citruses), figs, scurf pea (Psoralea corylifolia), & gas plant/burning bush (Dictamnus alba). In special populations of individuals prone to photosensitivity, they will also have to worry about the Compositae family in particular, &amp avoid contact with chrysanthemums, tansies, dandylions, endive, lettuce... among the secondary group, chrysanthemums are the greatest risk.
Ingestion is usually necessary but for some people topical contact is sufficient, especially for individuals already immune compromised, alcoholic, or with bad livers. While an exhaustive search MIGHT find cases involving some variety of euphorbia, it would still be less to worry about than those scary celery sticks & figleaves & mums.

And I caught a terrible cold after eating walnuts. Diagnosing yourself with euphorbia-induced phytophotodermatitis which the literature does not support is not sound evidence. Photosensitivity of rashes or scratches or abrasions is not at all impossible; that can be caused by a rugburn or rubbing your nose too hard with a hanky; it has little or nothing to do with plants. The phytochemicals that can cause photosensitivity are well-studied & known; euphorbias don't have them.
In contrast to your allergic response that does jive all that well with medical probabilities, this past week I pulled by hand & naked arms a huge patch of Euphorbia amygdaloides & I was soon bepattered with latex; it was even all over my neck from lugging a big armload to the compost. I completely spaced out the sensible act of going indoors immediately to wash my hands & arms & neck, but just kept on gardening, so I had this latex on me until near dinner time when I went indoors & took a shower. I'm sure that during that period I even had occasion to pick my nose a couple of times & to pee & wipe, yet even touching myself in sensitive places I had zero response to the latex. If I were to extrapolate as you have done from my lone experience, I should say it's 100% safe, don't worry, go roll in it.
But personal experience is not always to go by because untrained medical self-diagnosis is one of the more extreme follies. It's well documented in the medical literature says that dermatitis is a real risk from euphorbia, the more so for individuals with a sensitivity to it. The same literature does NOT support the notion of euphorbia causing phytophotosensitivity the way citrus & figs & parsnips & lettuce & chrysanthemums can.

If someone just strongly desired to be scared shitless they might have a lasting attack of phytophotosensitivity, staying away from the celery would be lots more sensible than fretting about euphorbia, though both are rather paranoid. If the rarest most distant possibilities must additionally be taken into consideration before one trusts one's very life & well-being to the garden, then gardening just isn't the thing to do.
Everytime I touch dirt in the garden I risk death by tetanus, & the older I get the bigger that risk gets, same as for all gardeners. But I keep on gardening even though tetamis os a MUCH bigger risk than a bout of phytophotosensitivity even from the plants that might cause it, let alone from euphorbias not likely to cause it.
-paghat the ratgirl
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from snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) contains these words:
Diagnosing yourself

would be foolish. That was done by my doctor and confirmed by a consultant dermatologist.
Janet.
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