En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

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
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
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.


Hydrangea arborescens

Hydrangea arborescens

Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Toxicity of Yucca leaves San Marcos, TX
August 19, 2009 - Can you tell me if Yucca constricta leaves are poisonous? I ran into one at night and the next morning had a hive-like, VERY itchy rash.
view the full question and answer

Are Eve's Necklace seeds poisonous to dogs from Plano TX
May 09, 2013 - Are the seed pods on eve's necklace poisionous to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Is Fern-like Plant with White Flower Poison Hemlock?
May 06, 2014 - I have a fern-like plant which produces white flowers that uncurl from the stem as the plant starts to grow. Is this poison hemlock?
view the full question and answer

hummingbird attractants
May 03, 2012 - I live in Baytown, Texas and am looking for a variety of plants that attract Hummingbirds, but are also pet friendly. I have two dogs, so this is a major concern. I am putting the plants in my backyar...
view the full question and answer

Fall care for Fan Scarlet lobelia in Rock Island IL
November 09, 2009 - What do I do with Scarlet Fan lobelia in the fall; do I cut it back or let it go as is?
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center