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

When may I remove seed heads from yuccas?
June 07, 2010 - Soft tip yuccas dominate my home's landscape. When is the best time to remove the heavy seed heads after flowering? In addition to being difficult to work around, the pods seem to attract infestatio...
view the full question and answer

Central Texas plant to grow in cavity in cedar (Juniperus ashei)
February 27, 2010 - Is there a CenTX native that would be happy in a one-gallon cavity in a Cedar tree? I'd like to disguise an amputated limb. I'd consider a Bromeliad or Staghorn fern, but would prefer a native.
view the full question and answer

Native Plant Suggestions for Dripping Springs
August 02, 2011 - I have a very dry commercial property in Dripping Springs TX where the dry sand/dust isn't a good rain conductor (whenever we get rain). What can we plant there? We have no irrigation and use a rai...
view the full question and answer

Loss of bloom stalk on Yucca filamentosa from Scotch Plains NJ
April 27, 2013 - We have 3 Yucca filamentosa L. planted together, in NJ. A friend of ours was helping to remove the weeds, little did she know and removed the blooming stalk from the plants. By the time I saw, it was ...
view the full question and answer

Container plant in difficult sun exposure from Leander TX
June 06, 2014 - HELP!!!! I have a large Mexican terracotta pot on my front porch. This awkward area is facing westward, so receives the full dose of Texas sun after about 3 pm onward. Now here's the catch; my fr...
view the full question and answer

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