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 Suckers Reprise, Austin TX
July 06, 2014 - Referring to an entry dated March 11, 2011 about Live Oak suckers - what happened to the suckers covered with newspaper and cardboard?
view the full question and answer

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

Elimination of nutgrass from native flower bed
October 14, 2007 - Nutgrass!*#!* My new bed in NE Austin wraps around a hot sunny SW street corner. Grass wouldn't grow there [I wouldn't water it.] I removed the turf [mostly stickers] to a depth of about 4", carefu...
view the full question and answer

Want to identify thorny vines growing in Charlotte Hall, MD
April 25, 2013 - I have vines with thorns growing in my wood, vining around the trees and killing them. It grows and vines go up trees of any height all the way to the top. It has green pointy leaves. If it doesn't...
view the full question and answer

Is Mimosa pudica poisonous from Janesville WI
February 21, 2014 - I have just recently learned of Mimosa Pudica also known as the sensitive plant. I see using the USDA website that it can be found in the USA so I think that covers the North America aspect. I have b...
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