En Español

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
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

Identification of a tree in Florida with bell-shaped red flowers
November 23, 2012 - A friend in Florida has asked about identification of a tree with a flower none of us have ever seen. It starts with a green pod, then flowers into, what looks to me like a Chinese lantern, or bell. I...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
September 30, 2008 - I was just in Alabama this weekend and all alongside the road-side were these georgeous pink flowers. I finally stopped to pick one and thet are even prettier up close! The stem is smooth and leafle...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 19, 2013 - My nephew bought an old farmhouse in Southeast Texas. There is a plant there that has glossy leaves similar to a lemon leaf. I cannot tell from the pic if it is a shrub or a vine. It is blooming now, ...
view the full question and answer

Holly-like groundcover under live oak tree.
June 21, 2012 - I have looked and looked and cannot identify a wonderful groundcover holly growing in the shade beneath my 100 year old Live Oak here in Austin. I have looked up every possible Ilex variety and am stu...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID in Flower Mound TX
June 23, 2009 - I have a large native tree in the back yard, leaves resembles a live oak, but evergreen,& small white flowers in the spring, very tall vase shaped tree. It had no acorns or berries.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center