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

Monday - July 02, 2012

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Problem Plants
Title: Identification of stinging plant in Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live on 15 acres on Nameless Road. When walking on property, occasionally my leg/ankle brushes against some plant that "stings" me. Like little needles in my skin. Doesn't last long, but because there's a short delayed reaction, I can't figure out what I'm walking past that has that effect. Maybe a grass or vine? Always near ankles--so not a tall plant, or else one that isn't tall yet. No stickers in skin, just a "poison ivy" type of transfer. I'm stumped! I read your note to a Georgia person about a stinging plant, and I doubt the presence of bugs/caterpillars. Also, doubt it's a tall plant, since not much is tall out here (due to lack of rain). Thanks MUCHO!!!

ANSWER:

Your description sounds like one of the species of Tragia, most likely one of the following:

Tragia betonicifolia (Betonyleaf noseburn).  Here is more information from the USDA Plants Database.

Tragia brevispica (Shortspike noseburn).  Here are photos of T. brevispica.

Tragia ramosa (Branched noseburn).  Here are more photos and information from Southwest Environmental Information Network.

They are small, unremarkable (except for their sting) plant that you not necessarily notice.  Here is an explanation (Tragia ramosa) of how this stinging mechanism works.

By the way, take the name "noseburn" to heart.   I have a friend who decided to test this name and it is, indeed, accurate!

 

From the Image Gallery


Betonyleaf noseburn
Tragia betonicifolia

Betonyleaf noseburn
Tragia betonicifolia

Branched noseburn
Tragia ramosa

Branched noseburn
Tragia ramosa

More Problem Plants Questions

Live oak sprouts in Austin
August 01, 2010 - How can I control the hundreds of live oak sprouts our lovely trees are throwing off? We recently landscaped with rain gardens and the related drainage ditches; they are filled with these very happy ...
view the full question and answer

Update on controlling live oak suckers with newspapers, cardboard and mulch
September 12, 2014 - Can we get an update on the march 2011 topic of live oak suckers? I am wondering if the newspaper/cardboard/mulch layers continued to take care of the problem. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Containing roots in Kaysville UT
October 26, 2009 - I'm planting my yard in all native Rocky Mountain and Great Basin plants. Is there a way to halt or contain the root propagation of Smooth Leaf Sumac and Quaking Aspen? I've considered digging dow...
view the full question and answer

Injury from non-native Canary Palm from Torrance CA
October 18, 2013 - I got stuck in the eye a yr ago by a Phoenix canariensis. It went through my retina and through the integral chamber and put a stamp on my lense. There was no room for any more err without causing bli...
view the full question and answer

Germination of Sophora seeds, and Dodder identification in Kingsland, TX.
May 02, 2012 - Our Mt. Laurel has just produced seeds. Can those be scarified and planted now or do they have to dry out. Also what is the stringy orange substance that gets on bluebonnets and other wildflowers ...
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