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
1 rating

Friday - April 06, 2012

From: Edgewater, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Sap from agave causing reactions from Edgewater FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Not only was I stuck with the century plant thorns and needle like ends when I was digging up its pups, but I also broke the carrot-like root of a few when I was transplanting and got the white sap on my gloves. I must have spread it everywhere because a few days later areas of my body and face were covered with large and small itching welts and nasty looking rashes. It took 2 weeks to clear and many tube of cortisone cream. What happened to me and could I have used something better?

ANSWER:

We are truly sorry that you were attacked by your Century Plant. Please read this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer with some suggestions of what to do next time, if there is a next time and you haven't blown up the offending plants.

If we may add one more precaution that we often give to people who are trying to deal with poison ivy, another vigorously self-protecting plant. Not only should you wear goggles and protective clothing, (we always thought a suit of armor would be nice, but they are hot) and get out of that clothing as soon as you go in, shower, run the clothes through the laundry, and if you had on leather gloves and they are drenched, throw them away. They are very good protection but using those gloves again could mean you are continually re-exposing yourself to the sap. We feel that what you had was an allergic reaction, and using the cortisone cream was probably a good idea. However, had you gone to a doctor, he might had prescribed an antihistamine or even steroids to be taken orally. We are NOT doctors, but, boy, have we had contact allergies in our life.

 

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

Are Agave Seed Pods Poisonous
September 27, 2010 - Are the seed pods, found in clusters, hanging from century plants(agave) poisonous to kids or dogs? They are large, light green, and shaped like fat bananas.
view the full question and answer

Black fungus on cholla cactus from Austin
March 25, 2012 - How to get rid of black fungus on cholla cactus? Cut it off? And treat with what?
view the full question and answer

Preserving century plant bloom stalk from Sedona AZ
December 16, 2012 - I have the flower stalk from a century plant which I am using as a Christmas tree. Can you advise me as to what I should do to preserve it for future use? Should it be kept indoors or outdoors. Pro...
view the full question and answer

Why are the leaves of my century plants yellowing?
June 22, 2009 - I am taking care of the Agaves (century plants) for my condo community here in Austin. They are planted in 18" or 20" pots. A couple of the plants have leaves that are yellowing around the bottom....
view the full question and answer

Native plants of Taos and Los Alamos NM from Houston
April 07, 2012 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, can you recommend a guidebook for the native plants of the Taos/Los Alamos region? (I'm most interested in forbs.) I'll be headed there in May--is there anything I should es...
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