Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tox Tip #3: Toxic euphorbia

You might end up in the ER with your 20-month old son if...

Leafy Spurge
...your yard is filled with the beautiful but invasive (and toxic) euphorbia bush. 

We planted one Euphorbia esula about 8 years ago and every few years we have to go around our yard and pull out all the volunteer bushes that pop up. They're great for filling in empty bed spaces but they are invasive. Also, their sticky, milky, white sap can be difficult to get off your skin and may cause some itching after going a few rounds with them in the yard.

So, I KNEW that the sap could be irritating. But I really like them - they're big and tropical looking, the green flowers are unique, and the insects love them. However, we learned today that even their flowers have enough of the "toxic white milky sap" to cause irritation because our little guy whacked himself in the face with one of the inflorescences and immediately his eye became swollen, he developed red blotches on his face, and it was painful.

I rinsed Baby F's eye and called Poison Control, who recommended a trip to the ER for a thorough eye irrigation to make sure all the sap (which is alkaline) got rinsed out and no eye damage occurred. Poor little guy. All is well but it was a long afternoon/ evening at the hospital (and I didn't get to go for a run).

So, just a warning to everyone - Hold off on having these nice bushes in your yard until your kids are old enough to stay away from them. Or even better, don't plant them at all because they are so invasive.

This is how Wikipedia describes my former bushy friend:

It displaces native vegetation in prairie habitats and fields through shading and by usurping available water and nutrients and through plant toxins that prevent the growth of other plants underneath it. It is an aggressive invader and, once present, can completely overtake large areas of open land. It is toxic as well.

Bottom line: Avoid Euphorbia bushes. They are nice to look at, but not so nice to our skin or the plant community. 

Bad plant, bad plant!


  1. Okay, so while I'm blogging about Igloo building you are out playing with toxic flowers in the garden? I live on the wrong side of the country! Glad your little guy is okay.

  2. oh but it is such a pretty plant! glad he is okay!

  3. Wow! So sorry your afternoon was spent in the ER. Glad baby is okay.

  4. Hate invasive plants! I posted about one last summer. I am going to go see if I can find the link.
    Well I can't find it but we have some pretty bad ones around here. Take care.

  5. Oh man! Sorry to hear that. Poor dude.

  6. I'm glad he's okay. Poor guy, and poor you. =(

    I did not know that about "vast majority." I'm glad to know, though! I will keep that in mind.

  7. Oh no - poor little thing. Hope he wasn't too upset and that he's all better now.