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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - August 27, 2013

From: Ellicott City, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification, Poisonous Plants
Title: Identity of plant with thorns in Maryland
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Maryland and was walking in the woods one day when I accidentally stumbled in to a thorn bush. I don't remember what color the thorns where or very much about the plant in general but I do know it hurt more than a normal thorn bush, and it kept hurting. It felt like it had an irritant on the thorns that made the cuts from it swell red, itchy, and painful. That went away after awhile but today I found two, large red dots on the side of my foot that had seemed to get bigger and more painful. I checked all insects and arachnids in the area but found none that could have caused it. Could it be the thorns? If so, do you know what kind of thorns they are? Thanks Mr. Smarty Plants.

ANSWER:

We have had questions before about plants with poisonous thorns.  So far as I know there are no plants in North America with thorns that are poisonous or have an irritating substance associated with them.   I am going to refer you to the most recent of those questions which also has references to earlier questions.  You haven't given us enough information to identify what plant the thorns you encountered were on.  There are plenty of plants with thorns in Maryland—Smilax bona-nox (Saw greenbrier), Rosa carolina (Carolina rose), Aralia spinosa (Devil's walkingstick), and Rubus allegheniensis (Allegheny blackberry) to name just a few—but without a description of the plant I can't even begin to identify the source of the thorns.

There are at least two possible explanations for the initial red, itchy, painful results of your encounter with the thorny plants and the subsequent red spots on your foot:

  • Dirt or other sources of bacteria were on the thorns and were transferred to you when the thorns pierced your foot and this caused the irritation and possibly an infection.
  • The tips of the thorns were broken off in your skin and are still there causing the irritation.

Either way, if your foot is still sore and painful, you should see a doctor to treat the problem.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Tall lily with dark berry at leaf attachment
June 25, 2012 - A lily showed up in my flower garden last year (central Illinois); about 3' tall, a single dark berry at the stem where each leaf is attached. It didn't flower. This year it's approaching 4' tall ...
view the full question and answer

Difference between Convallaria majalis and Convallaria majuscula
May 17, 2012 - How do you tell the difference in the native convallaria from the European species?
view the full question and answer

Identification of red/yellow/black flower in California
April 15, 2013 - Plant found, April Mount Diablo CA 6 symmetrical petals red with a pattern of a yellow flower with black edge in the centre, I can not identify, please help.
view the full question and answer

Plant with dark black/purple berries in a cluster
November 06, 2012 - Today at our local dog park we noticed a bush/vine that's been growing up the fence is producing berries. It didn't flower at all. The berries look to have started out green and now are changing t...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Beaumont TX
August 13, 2010 - I live in Beaumont Texas and have some trees on the land I hunt that look like a yaupon but put on a small blue berry that the deer devour in December. I have looked and searched the Internet but hav...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center