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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.

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

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Tuesday - December 27, 2011

From: Indianapolis, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Vines
Title: Is there a vine in Indiana with poisonous thorns?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I was cut at the left big toe by a brownish/red thorny vine while tracking thru dry grass near the bridge exiting 278. I'm from Indianapolis, in 46208. Was wondering if I was exposed to a poisonous vine. Cleaned up and sanitized well. Nevertheless still swollen after 5 days.

ANSWER:

We recently answered the question:  "Are there any plants in North America that possess poisonous thorns?"  The answer for your situation is "no, not really."  My guess is that you ran into a Smilax bona-nox (Saw greenbrier) vine or a long branch of one of the species of Rubus (blackberry, raspberry, dewberry) that grows in Indiana.  These both have formidable thorns on them and hurt a lot if your flesh comes in contact with them.   Their thorns, however, are not poisonous.   Puncture wounds in flesh caused by any sharp object have the potential to get infected from bacteria introduced into the wound.   There could even be a small bit of thorn that broke off in the wound.  If your toe is still swollen, my advice to you is to go see a doctor.

 

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