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Euphorbia warning!!!!

14 April 2016 11:53:37


Hi all

I just felt I had to write and warn you about a nasty encounter with a plant. On Tuesday last I decided to do a little pruning. The plants I have in my garden are there for about seven years and I never had any issues with any of them. A plant which I now know is a euphorbia has been thriving a little too much so I decided to tidy it up a little. After removing some of the stems and leaves I was just putting them in the compost bin when the lid dropped down and snapped them. The milky sap flew up and cover my arm and shot into my eye.

I did not know anything about this plant but I tried to wash the sap off my hands with soapy water, very difficult as the latex sets very quickly. I then rinsed my eye as best as I could. Twenty minutes later the pain began. My eye felt it was going to explode and my sinuses were throbbing. The pain became unbearable and my eye became red and began weeping. I could not even think straight with the intensity of the pain but I did try optrex baths.

An hour later I begged a neighbour to bring me to any hospital, it did not matter but I needed to get there asap. Thank God we arrived in Beaumont where I was rushed through and was fortunate enough to meet a specialist dealing with eye truama. I brought some of the plant in a plastic bag for them to identify it.

They washed out my eye with six bags of saline and put anaesthetic drops to ease the pain. I kept asking them to use more but they said it was not good for the eye to use too much. I had a complete eye test where they found that the sap had got into my cornea, in fact I had a chemical burn in my eye.

I spent a few hours there getting the pain under control, was given antibiotic drops and pain relief and was told to go go the Mater Eye clinic in the morning. I did not sleep that night with pain, I developed a really bad headache and my nasal passage was inflamed.

Went to the Mater yesterday morning and am now under their care, I am on six different tpes of drops and pain killers and have to return tomorrow.

My eye is still aching, my sight is very fuzzy in that eye and I feel miserable. Please God my sight will not be damaged but time will tell.

The main reason I am writing this is that neither of the hospitals have seen this type of injury and they had to look it up befgore treating me. The plant itself is very common but I never heard of its danger, apparently the toxicity is very high and can cause blindness or even death if ingested. I had bought it years ago in a local plant shop.

I felt I had to warn people about it because I would never want anyone to go through the very awful experience that I have had.


LindaB LindaB 14 April 2016 12:02:47

Cara that is so awful, I am nearly in tears reading your story, glad you told us because even though I knew it was a poisonous plant I am not always that careful with it.  I wish you a full recovery and sorry you have to go through this awful pain inflicted by gardening.

fran m fran m 14 April 2016 12:20:54

I really hope you make a full recovery very quickly.

I know about this plant am am always careful with it. I still have a small make on an arm four years after been burned by the sap.

I also think it effects some people more than others, but would not like the sap anywhere near my eyes. Take care and best wishes.

TinaJ TinaJ 14 April 2016 12:33:49

Cara i am so sorry this happened to you

I knew the milky sap can burn very badly ,but like Linda i am not that careful with it

I wish you a speedy recovery


Jacinta D Jacinta D 14 April 2016 12:58:21

Gosh, how awful for you. You must be going through torture. I am so aware of its toxicity. I always wear gloves when cutting back this plant and I won't allow my little grandson to go near it. He knows the drill.

I really hope you get better very soon.

Jacinta D Jacinta D 14 April 2016 12:59:19

Welcome to the site by the way.

Gracedieu Lass Gracedieu Lass 14 April 2016 13:21:52

Very sorry to hear of your accident. I would have thought that the hospital staff would know what was wrong with you as soon as you presented. Lots of plants in our garden are very toxic. I am sure now that you are receiving medication everything will be fine. Thank you for highlighting the problem.

PCON PCON 14 April 2016 13:46:21

The milky sap of Euphorbia is well known to be very toxic, Cara. Sorry you were not aware of this before you started to prune. Many thanks for the warning to everybody else. and I hope you make a quick and complete recovery.

Cara Cara 14 April 2016 15:08:45

Thank you everyone for the good wishes, gardening is my life and being outside is the best therapy for me. I am not very happy about going out there right now and just want to get rid of the dam plant. I am not so sure about how to do it safely and but will have to wait a while until I am in less pain and can see a little better.

No Grace, the hospitals had never seen this type of injury and actually in Beaumont they brought in students to have a look which was nerve wracking. The doctor in the Mater clinic said she had learnt something new yesterday.

Again, I wrote about this as a warning and I cannot believe I knew nothing about it before.

Thank you so so much for all the kind words, they will keep me going for the rest of the evening whilst I apply all the drops into my eye.

Delighted to rejoin the group


fraoch fraoch 14 April 2016 18:54:27

You poor thing, best wishes for your recovery. I wear gloves around it but never thought of it jumping in to an eye . Gloves and goggles at least if you are trying to take it out.

Jackie Jackie 14 April 2016 19:14:37

Cara I am so sorry to hear of your accident. I also know of its toxicity and if Im honest I dont even think about it when Im pruning them. I dont even wear gloves, but that will all change now.

In fact,  I know what its like to have eye trauma as I have Acute Glaucoma since Christmas  and it sounds very similiar to what you are going through, the pain unbearable. I also use eye drops each day and the staff in the Mater are excellent.

I wish you a speedy recovery and hopefully you will be back out in the garden enjoying it again real soon.

DeclanTipp DeclanTipp 14 April 2016 19:47:36

Cara, it's one nasty plant. I tried removing it years ago but it's back almost as good as ever . I heard about its dangers but never had an encounter like that . I've had a few " stings on hands and arms " alright but no lasting damage . Your journal has now convinced me to dig it out ... again .. If children were to play with it etc 

DeclanTipp DeclanTipp 14 April 2016 19:55:22

Cara, it's one nasty plant. I tried removing it years ago but it's back almost as good as ever . I heard about its dangers but never had an encounter like that . I've had a few " stings on hands and arms " alright but no lasting damage . Your journal has now convinced me to dig it out ... again .. If children were to play with it etc 

Kate & Graham Kate & Graham 14 April 2016 19:55:25

That is awful, u poor thing,I hope you are feeling better soon

Elizabeth7 Elizabeth7 14 April 2016 19:57:56

Cara welcome back to the site. Thank you so much for reminding us about the dangers of Euphorbia. I am very aware of the toxicity but still tended to be a bit careless so having read  your  dreadful experience I will reform and be very careful indeed. I hope you recover soon.

PeterW PeterW 14 April 2016 20:53:04

I know of the white sap and I'm always careful when cutting back. I learned about it on this site really I was never warned when buying one but as others say lots of poisonous plants in our garden that we never knew were poisonus. hope your are better soon and dig up the plant and dump, i'm sure you can plant something nicer and safer in that spot then.

Fleurette Fleurette 14 April 2016 23:03:17

So sorry to hear about your burns, Cara.  i wrote a journal about its dangers a few years ago, as my friend was within a few hours of being admitted to a specialist Burns unit. 

I fail to understand why members if this family of plants are always being recommended.  ALL euphorbias are banned in my garden.

Jacinta, wearing gloves is no protection. I used to think like you till I got caught out, drawing my gloved hand across my face, touching my lips. See what I mean? And in my opinion, there is a slight difference in the danger between poisonous, and sap which you can unwittingly get on your skin. 


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