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

Agave americana/Century Plant care and life cycle.
June 10, 2009 - How often do century plants bloom? Do you have info on how to care for them?
view the full question and answer

Growing Native Cactus Indoors in Dallas
December 17, 2015 - I have a Chihuahuan fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus uncinatus), a pincushion cactus (Epithelantha micromeris) and a horse crippler (Echinocactus texensis), which I bring in for the winter, since they te...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of red yucca from Lago Vista TX
April 09, 2013 - I am in Lago Vista - trying to find out why I can't get my red yucca to bloom. The first year they were great and now after two or three years - no measurable spikes have shown up. HELP!
view the full question and answer

Can I save my century plant by cutting the flowering stalk in Austin, TX? Probably not.
April 28, 2010 - Our century plant is starting to sprout it's flower (four feet). If we cut it down can we save the plant? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Bloom stalk not visibly connected to Century Plant from Johnson City, TX
July 31, 2013 - Can anyone tell my why my Century Plant is growing a bloom stalk a couple of feet away from my plant instead of up through the middle? Ive never seen one do that and it strikes me as being rather odd!
view the full question and answer

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