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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - April 06, 2012

From: Edgewater, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Sap from agave causing reactions from Edgewater FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Not only was I stuck with the century plant thorns and needle like ends when I was digging up its pups, but I also broke the carrot-like root of a few when I was transplanting and got the white sap on my gloves. I must have spread it everywhere because a few days later areas of my body and face were covered with large and small itching welts and nasty looking rashes. It took 2 weeks to clear and many tube of cortisone cream. What happened to me and could I have used something better?

ANSWER:

We are truly sorry that you were attacked by your Century Plant. Please read this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer with some suggestions of what to do next time, if there is a next time and you haven't blown up the offending plants.

If we may add one more precaution that we often give to people who are trying to deal with poison ivy, another vigorously self-protecting plant. Not only should you wear goggles and protective clothing, (we always thought a suit of armor would be nice, but they are hot) and get out of that clothing as soon as you go in, shower, run the clothes through the laundry, and if you had on leather gloves and they are drenched, throw them away. They are very good protection but using those gloves again could mean you are continually re-exposing yourself to the sap. We feel that what you had was an allergic reaction, and using the cortisone cream was probably a good idea. However, had you gone to a doctor, he might had prescribed an antihistamine or even steroids to be taken orally. We are NOT doctors, but, boy, have we had contact allergies in our life.

 

From the Image Gallery


Havard's century plant
Agave havardiana

Havard's century plant
Agave havardiana

Havard's century plant
Agave havardiana

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