Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Wednesday - December 02, 2009

From: Denham Springs, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Does the tip of the agave contain poison from Denham Spring LA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I bent over to pick something up and got stabbed in the head with the point of a agave plant. It is about 15 years old and I measured the point-it is right at an inch long. My head did bleed and it burns even ofter fifteen or twenty minutes. Is this a poisonous plant and should I contact my doctor or just wait till I feel anything out of the ordinary?

ANSWER:

We're going to assume you have an Agave americana (American century plant) or closely related native agave. We don't have to tell you that these plants know how to defend themselves, but we don't think you've been poisoned. When we are asked about removing or pruning agaves, we always advise goggles, long sleeves, long pants and heavy leather gloves, because there is a liquid that can be released by cutting the leaves which can be very irritating. We also advise those that are planning to plant agaves that they clip off those formidable tips that might be in contact with passers-by, including the gardener, children or pets.  On the other hand, we are not doctors, and we can't see the wound. We are assuming you washed the wound, to avoid any pollutants that might have been on the tip getting into your system. However, we still think you should contact your doctor, tell him what we told you, make sure you know if any of the spine is still in your head, and if it is still burning. The doctor might want to look at it just as a precaution. We have no close-up pictures of the spines of the Agave americana, so we are giving you some views of the closely-related  Agave havardiana (Havard's century plant).

 

From the Image Gallery


Havard's century plant
Agave havardiana

Havard's century plant
Agave havardiana

Havard's century plant
Agave havardiana

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Shriveling agave from Miami Florida
August 23, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Most upset - My beautiful agave (wish I could have submitted an image) has stared to misbehave. The once first liquid filled leaves, are starting to look more like the skin ...
view the full question and answer

Mulching Spring Bulbs in Upstate NY
October 25, 2010 - Just planted tulip bulbs for Spring. The Parks Department then put 4 inches of mulch on top. Will the tulips be able to get through and bloom come Spring? Is mulch a good winterizer for them? Indoor c...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting blue agave pups in Arizona
February 03, 2009 - I have a blue Agave with lots of pups, how do I transplant a few pups into planters. What kind of soil and how much water will they need?
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of yucca plants in Blanco, TX
May 12, 2009 - How does a person get rid of Yucca plants? We have four fig trees that do not bear figs, what do we need to do? We live in SE Blanco County, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Removal of pups from Century Plant after blooming in Prairieville LA
October 03, 2009 - Will the main part of the century plant always die after it grows a stalk? I have babies coming off the base and need to know if I should separate them to keep them alive.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.