Succulents are a popular plant in Central Queensland gardens but many people are not aware that some succulents can be very dangerous. One of the more commonly known poisonous succulents is the Euphorbia family. On Saturday I was given a cutting of this plant while visiting my cousin out west. Even though I washed my hands after handling it, that evening I happened to rub my eyes and within 30 minutes I was in the Emergency Dept at Roma Hospital. The plant goes by many different common names: (Firestick Plants, Indian Tree Spurge, Naked Lady, Pencil Tree, Rubber-Hedge, Sticks on Fire or Milk Bush). Euphorbias contain a white latex based sap that irritates skin and cause anaphylactic reactions in people who are allergic to latex, and if it gets in the eyes causes extreme burning pain which, in the worst case, can lead to blindness. While not all people react as intensely, the sap will generally cause a rash to appear wherever it came in contact with skin. Removing the sap is particularly difficult because it acts a bit like glue and dries clear. Even when you think it is gone, trace invisible residue can cause major symptoms. It is recommended that you wash the area for at least 15 minutes with soap and water. If you get the sap in your eyes, flush immediately and seek medical care asap.
In bigger plants the milky sap can squirt out of where the plant is cut which makes it essential for full body protection when removing these plants. If you have one of these pencil cactus please get rid of it. Don’t buy one at garden centres, wear gloves and even then wash your hands raw. All euphorbia sap is dangerous and can be deadly. I was extremely lucky that I didn't lose my sight, although I have to use drops for a week. This plant is VERY common in our CQ gardens and succulent lovers snap them up at markets. I'm sure most people do not know how dangerous they are, or they wouldn't have them. Please share this story.