(Reuters Health) - Gardeners caring for plants in the Euphorbia genus should be careful about handling the toxic sap, according to a new report.
More than 2,000 species of euphorbia exist, including succulents like certain cacti, tropicals like Poinsettia, and flowering shrubs and trees, both evergreen and deciduous. Particularly popular are plants known as spurges, which tend to be drought- and deer-resistant.
Euphorbia plants produce a white latex sap that can vary in chemical makeup and toxicity. Since all of them require pruning, gardeners should remember to wear gloves and eyewear when handling them.
In particular, getting sap in the eye can cause severe burning, light sensitivity, swelling, blurry vision and watery eyes.
In the journal Eye, Katherine McVeigh of the Bristol Eye Hospital in the UK describes a patient who came to her with inflammation and pain, but she couldnt figure out at first what was wrong.
I felt unnerved when a patient presented with an excruciatingly painful eye and minimal history, she wrote. She reported gardening but denied use of any chemicals.
Eventually, McVeigh attributed the problem to contact with euphorbia in the patients garden.
With particularly toxic euphorbia sap, ...