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
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

Tropical-looking landscape in Austin, TX
March 24, 2005 - I'd like to have a tropical-looking landscape in my front yard. What plants would you recommend for Austin, Texas? I would prefer plants that can stay outside year-round, but will take suggestions on...
view the full question and answer

New agave plants, offshoots of parent plant, transplanting
September 16, 2007 - I have different varieties of Agaves that are sending off new plants from the mother. Some have 1-2 and some have 6-7 plants. Is there a proper method for removing (cutting them a certain way) for t...
view the full question and answer

Dividing and planting Yucca and pups in New Mexico
June 23, 2009 - I bought a Yucca plant and had 7 plants in one planter 1 large and 6 small. We wanted to split up the plants so we carefully separated them and planted them. My soil is very sandy (Rio Rancho) but I...
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

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

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