Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
3 ratings

Saturday - August 08, 2009

From: LaPorte, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Medicinal Plants, Problem Plants
Title: Treating stings from stinging nettles in Indiana
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How can I remove hairlike thorns (as from nettle-type weed)? My hands react within 24 hours with swelling and pain, esp in morning. In past when I have then been able to locate the offending thorn, the symptoms disappear within 24 hours. This time, despite plastic gloves, I felt the sting but am now unable to see any thorns, they are so tiny. Is there anything one could use to soak out microscopic thorns, a balm or salts? Or any other remedy? Had steroids in past but did not go away til I could remove thorn.

ANSWER:

We are gardeners, not doctors, and we would not presume to make any treatment suggestions. Urtica dioica (stinging nettle) is a fascinating plant, edible (after being cooked), used for generations as a herbal medicine for various ailments, and with spines that can inject a chemical cocktail, including histamines, seratonin and formic acid, the same stuff many venomous insects carry.  We found a WikiHow website, How to Treat a Sting from a Stinging Nettle. Remember, these are not our recommendations, just ideas you can try at your own risk.

We do have a couple of recommendations, however. The first is, try to eliminate the plant from your landscape. The second is to use leather gloves. And see a doctor.

Pictures of Urtica dioica (stinging nettle)

 

More Problem Plants Questions

Why do conifers kill Texas hummingbird sage from Gray GA
April 15, 2014 - Why do conifers kill Texas hummingbird sage?
view the full question and answer

How to control Yellow Woodsorrel in Habiturf?
March 19, 2013 - Last year we planted Habiturf in our front lawn and prepared the ground as directed with organic compost. This year we have an infestation of low growing yellow oxalis which we believe came in with t...
view the full question and answer

Oak Sucker Reprise
May 02, 2015 - ----Original Question---- SUNDAY - JULY 06, 2014 Title: Live Oak Suckers Reprise, Austin TX QUESTION: Referring to an entry dated March 11, 2011 about Live Oak suckers - what happened to the su...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating silverleaf nightshade from Albuquerque NM
June 07, 2014 - I have silverleaf nightshade in my yard and would like to eradicate it (yeah, I know, good luck!) or at least control it. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Problem with Chinese Pistache tree
September 01, 2014 - We have a gorgeous Chinese Pistache in our yard, about 25 feet tall. We bought it for its gorgeous fall color. The problem is that it has never turned color for us. All the other pistaches in the neig...
view the full question and answer

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