Laughing at anything so serious as getting sap or anything like that from these plants is dumb. I have had the juice in my eyes and so has my husband,  I can tell you that it is pure HELL !

My husband was cutting Euphorbs one time and I was clear across a double 40 x 135 foot greenhouse I noticed my nostrils and eyes burning and running.  This was just in the air.  I beleive he was cutting Euph. cooperi and grandicornis.  I had to get out of the greenhouse altogether.  Him being close to what he was cutting wasn't getting the extreme because he was on a stool close to the ground and the fumes rose in the heated air.  The stupid thing he did, was to remove his glasses because they were fogged up and he made a few more cuts and then some sap spurted into his eye.  His eye was matted up for 3 weeks and he was unable to see out of it for more than one week.  The whites of the eye was red and  he was in pure misery.   Later years, I rubbed my eye with my arm. I didn't have any juice on the arm, but just rubbing against my glove and blouse, I must have had something there,  I got the worst pain in my eye,  I couldn't close or blink my eye without horrible pain.  I drove to the hospital in Stockton, 45 miles one way, just to get some drops that stopped the pain for a full (15) minutes.  It cost me $35.00 for a little vial of the stuff that lasted only until the next day.

So do pay attention to anyone who says that wearing goggles, mask and gloves, does have your best interest at heart.  Learn by others mistakes.... Please.   We do not wish this misery on even our worst enemy.


Lorraine Thomas   K & L Cactus Nursery





Monday, April 15, I was doing some mechanical work in our greenhouse. At  one point, the pot of a slightly spiny Euphorbia (which I later found was E. avasmontana) started to tip over. I caught the pot and moved it to a stable location. Thereupon, an E. abdelkuri just beyond it started to tip toward me. It has no spines, so I caught it in my right hand and laid it down gently. I went around to the other side of the bench and placed the E. abdulkuri pot in a stable upright position.

I noticed a bit later that I evidently had some latex on the back of two fingers of my right hand, even though I had not noticed either plant bleeding. Casually, I wiped the two fingers on the shin of my overalls.

A bit later, Joan called me for dinner, so I washed my hands with soap and water before eating dinner.

After dinner, watching TV, my right eye started to pain me. The pain grew more intense, so I went into a bathroom and rinsed my eye with tap water. It didn't help. Joan put artificial tears in my eye. That didn't help either. I asked Joan to drive me to the Emergency Room of the nearest hospital. While registering, I described the pain as 5 to 6 on the necessarily subjective scale on 1 to 10.

Emergency Room visits require many hours of waiting. At one point, I fell asleep while sitting upright after which the pain was about at the 3 level. An ophthalmologist finally showed up. He put some drops in my eye which relieved the pain (temporarily) and advised me to see our ophthalmologist on the morrow after seeing no visible damage.

The next morning I felt only a slight irritation in my eye. Our ophthalmologist concurred that there was no damage and opined that it was the ph of the latex which caused the pain. He turned me loose.

Joan and I both thought it slightly curious that neither ophthalmologist had ever heard of Euphorbias; it was an unknown word to them. The suggestion that ph was the key to the pain made me wonder if diluted vinegar might relieve the pain. However, this is not a home experiment that anybody should ever try. I will, however, ask the ophthalmologist about it next time I have an examination.

You might wonder how in the world I let this happen to me. I have gotten latex on my hands before, but certainly not from E. abdulkuri. We have been buying, raising, and propagating succulent plants for over 25 years and have read all the warnings. I suspect that I have probably been more conscientious about washing my hands immediately after getting latex on them in the past. Incidentally, there was a sticky looking drop of sap on the E. abdulkuri the next day.

It was probably a casual brush of my right hand past the corner of my right eye that did the latex transfer.

My advice to others is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately if you get any Euphorbia latex on them. And don't casually brush your hands against the corner of your eyes which is easier said than done.


Stanley C. Skirvin






I have a siimilar story to Stanley's. I was re-potting some Euphorbias and  got some latex on my hands. I made sure to thoroughly wash my hands  afterwards, as I always do. About an hour or two later, I started having this  terrible burning sensation up my nose. I immediately washed out my inner nose  as best I could, but, the burning continued. The burning last all the rest of  the day and was quite unbearable. I knew, however, that it was Euphorbia  poisoning and knew that it would subside. But what pain. The next morning, the burning did in fact subside and by that afternoon had disappeared. In  this experience, I was just glad that the latex had not hit my eyes.


Elias Sassoon






Adding to the anecdotes about Euphorbia latex, the problem is that it sticks to the hands and even if you wash them, traces may still be there.

I had a very painful experience some years ago when in Djibouti. I had been touching Euphorbias and was then invited to eat. Before doing so I washed my hands thoroughly and then went to do what comes naturally, before washing again. During lunch I had a burning sensation which got me worried thinking it was the onset of some urinary infection. It got worse! Upon inspection I found the skin had been taken right off in very delicate areas, and I spent a few uncomfortable days!!

So men, be very careful!


Alan Butler






Here is my sad and painful tale.  I was pruning a large E. tirucalli over about a period of an hour when the temperature was about 35 C.  I was wearing goggles and gloves.  I washed my hands after finishing.  I then went to play basketball and sweated a lot.  I noticed some mild burning that I thought was sweat in my eyes.  Over about 15 minutes the pain became quite intense and I could not keep my eyes open because of the pain.  I tried rinsing them out with water without effect.  A neighbor took me to an emergency room where they irrigated my eyes without effect.  Examination showed no corneal defects.  The pain began to subside after about 8 hours and was gone the next morning. 

I think the lesson to learn here is that the latex was on my forehead and the sweat carried it into my eyes.  Since then I always shower and soap up several times after pruning any euphorb.


Jan Kramer






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