Contact Us Host an Event 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
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

Proposal of marriage to Mr. Smarty Plants
April 21, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Will you marry me? Garden bliss hangs in the balance.
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of Adams needle (Yucca filamentosa)
June 24, 2009 - My friend is changing her flower beds around and is wanting to eliminate an Adam's needle that has been there for several years. She has already dug it up and now is trying to get rid of all the new...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant that smells like oranges in Alpine, TX
August 16, 2012 - There are patches of flat bushy like plants in lawn, smells like orange. Areas may be 10" and spreading, but when pulled has small root. How can I get rid of this plant and what is it?
view the full question and answer

Controlling a shrub/tree with lots of thorns and flowers similar to beebrush, but lots of thorns
July 08, 2014 - I live in Horseshoe Bay, Llano County with 1.5 acres of natural habitat. There is a plant that I have always called Cat's Claw but in researching Cat's Claw, I may have misidentified it. It has a fl...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of vine in Ohio
September 21, 2010 - I have a vine in my forest that grows up trees, that could eventually pull them over. It has roundleaves and prickers on the stem. What is this vine so I can research it?
view the full question and answer

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