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
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 plant with red berries toxic to dogs
August 29, 2011 - I recently retrieved my poor doggy from the Vet. He had eaten a berry from an invasive-commonly seen brushy plant growing along my neighbors fence line. We try to keep our side clear-but the small lar...
view the full question and answer

Identification of fast-growing weeds with orange flowers
July 14, 2013 - I have fast growing plants (weeds?) in my heavily wooded backyard. They reach heights of over 6 ft and have orange flowers. I have spent hours searching the web today with no success -the closest thin...
view the full question and answer

Identification of Cryptomeria japonica for homeowners association
May 09, 2007 - Good morning. We are wondering if Cryptomeria japonica trees can fit under the term "pine like". We used the term pine like when asking for our home owners associations approval and we put in a Cr...
view the full question and answer

Identity of vining plants in yard in Texas
May 08, 2015 - I have vining plants in my back-yard, here when I bought the house, that, from what I have been able to find on-line, look like poison sumac, however, I know they are not. Leaf shape, color, and appe...
view the full question and answer

Tree purchased at LBJWC plant sale from Austin
November 10, 2009 - I bought a tree at the 2008 LBJ Wildflower plant sale, it is growing great. I would like to plant it in the proper location/soil but lost the name tag and can't identify it. It has very fine leaves...
view the full question and answer

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