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

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 Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
April 16, 2010 - No pictures only memory. It looks like a dried flower and grows with other wildflowers along roadside. It is mostly purple or blue purple and sometimes called statis. Stems favor dandelions, only t...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification from Alpharetta GA
September 28, 2009 - I found a thorny bush in a yard. It had either immature fruit or a seed pod that I would like identified. The pod was a little larger than a golf ball, yellow, and a little fuzzy. When cut open it ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 28, 2010 - I am trying to identify a plant that was given as a gift.It is growing outside in a pot, it is about 20 inches tall. Has green leaves on top, purple underneath and lovely purple flowers. Seems to lik...
view the full question and answer

Blue vervain native to Indiana
January 06, 2003 - I have a species I need to know if it is native to my area (southern Indiana) - Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)
view the full question and answer

Fungi in the flower bed
October 01, 2007 - Found a strange thing in my flower bed, while tilling. It was egg shape, white, with a little purple, soft but tough like leather on the outside, with a small 2 inch root. Curiosity got me so I cut it...
view the full question and answer

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