Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - July 06, 2009

From: Monroe, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Skin irritation caused by hydrangea in Monroe GA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can Queen Anne Lace hydrangea cause a skin irritation such as poison ivy or oak? I picked up a branch that had broken off to discard and the following day I have a place on my arm about six inches long that has blisters and is burning and itching like poison ivy.

ANSWER:

Apparently so. It's getting to where people with allergies aren't safe anywhere. This article from "Poisonous Plants of Georgia" from the  Herbarium of the University of Georgia at Athens describes the symptoms, acknowledging that the sensitivity to branches, leaves and flowers is real. It apparently is most often found in nursery workers who are occupied with propagating hydrangeas. It can, however, take one to ten years before the sensitivity develops.

There are two species of hydrangea native to Georgia: Hydrangea arborescens (wild hydrangea) and Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea). Your naming your hydrangea as "Queen Anne Lace" leads us to believe you have a hybrid or a cultivar named that by some plant retailer. We could find no actual hydrangea by that common name.

We learned that the culprit in the hydrangea is an isocoumarin derivative of hydragenol and that it is not present in all hydrangeas. However, since we don't have a clue which hydrangea you have in your garden, your best bet is to avoid them all. You apparently were sensitized very quickly, if this is the first time you had the reaction, or perhaps it was the first time you handled hydrangea branches. Nursery workers experiencing the problem wear rubber gloves when doing their work with the plant. 

However, there is also the possibility that you DO have poison ivy. It is a sneaky vine that likes the same moist, partly shady conditions that hydrangeas do, and loves to hide in dense shrubs. Either way, this is a medical matter, out of Mr. Smarty Plants' line. You should probably see a doctor, and then avoid direct contact of your skin with the hydrangea in the future.

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Poison Ivy in Semi-wetland Massachusetts
June 27, 2013 - You answered this question for Tennessee, but I would like an answer for a Massachusetts semi-wetlands area: What can I plant to discourage poison ivy, or at least make it very clear that it is poison...
view the full question and answer

Are the seeds of Texas ebony poisonous to dogs from Chandler AZ
October 30, 2009 - Please tell me if it is dangerous for my puppy to eat the seeds of a Texas ebony. She seems to be attracted to them.
view the full question and answer

Are Cleveland Pear trees in Georgia toxic to horses and/ or dogs?
June 02, 2009 - Are flowering Cleveland Pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) poisonous to horses and/or dogs? I have read that the prunus species are, does that include pear trees? Please help!
view the full question and answer

Is carrotwood poisonous to Boston Terrier in Rancho Cucamonga CA?
July 20, 2009 - My Boston Terrier always goes to our carrotwood tree and licks the base. He gets so excited that he drools all over the place? Why does this tree cause this reaction in our dog? Is it poisonous to ...
view the full question and answer

Is Asclepias incarnata poisonous to dogs?
June 13, 2012 - Is Asclepias incarnata safe in a farm/yard with plenty of dogs running around? What happens if a dog eats the leaves or seeds or pods? Is eating any of these fatal to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.