Caution: May Cause Skin Irritation
You can look, but don't touch these plants that can get gardeners covered with an itchy rash.
Plants that may cause skin irritation
- Garlic mustard
- Gas plant
- Meadow rue
- Pencil cactus (euphorbia)
- Poison ivy
- Poison oak
- Poison sumac
- Stinging nettle
- Wild parsnip
Gas plant, meadow rue, euphorbia and hyacinths are common landscape plants that can leave some gardeners covered with an itchy, red rash. Through the list of potential irritation-inducing plants is long, not all gardeners will be affected by some—or even any—of these plants.
The best tactics to avoid the itch are to be careful about what you plant, be diligent about wearing protective garden garb and learn maintenace strategies that'll keep your landscape looking good...and your skin rash-free.
Start by taking note on how the offending plant causes the rash, and make changes based on that information. For instance, some gardeners with sensitive skin develop a rash after only a few minutes of handling prickly plants. If this is you, be sure to wear heavy clothing and leather gloves, or convince your thicker-skinned gardening friends to help out.
Infamous plants like poison ivy or even some ornamental euphorbias also contain irritants in their saps that result in a painful and itchy rash. Don log sleeves if you plan to garden around or weed these irritants out of your landscape. It's also a good idea to immediately wash the irritating oils off your body and clothing to avoid further exposure and expansion of the rash.
Oddly enough, gas plant, wild parsnip and garlic mustard sap cause a rash only when the irritating oils are exposed to sunlight. That's why some gardeners I know weeds at dusk or by their landscape lighting to eliminate the risk. But if you can work around these irritants only by the light of day, be sure to wear long sleeves and gloves and wash skin immediately.