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.
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!!!!
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
Suzy O, Zone 5 Wisconsin
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
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,
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
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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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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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. :-)
from email@example.com (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.
"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
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, & 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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