Monday, July 14, 2008

The Evil Pencil Cactus



My daughter Kimberly, my husband, and I went to Prairie Gardens a few months ago. We loved going through all the different tents full of flowers! My daughter and her husband just bought a new home, which is contemporary. We were looking for inside plants that would look good in her home. We came across an unusual plant she nor I had ever seen! It had "contemporary" written all over it! It was called a "Pencil Cactus". She and I fell in love with it! When we showed it to my husband, he turned up his nose at it and exclaimed, "You're not buying that thing are you?" My daughter and I said "why not?" He told us it was an evil looking plant! Hmmm, never heard of an evil plant before! His words resounded in my head days later.

I helped my daughter load the plant in the cart, as it was about 3-4 foot tall, and it's pencils very slender. We didn't want to break it! As we put it in the cart, I noticed a sticky milky substance all over my hands. After we left there, we stopped to get a drink, and I went to wash my hands. My hands still felt sticky after washing. We had to get home, and gave our daughter a hug and said goodbye..

After getting home, again I tried to wash my hands. By then my lips felt funny and one eye seemed to be swelling. I just figured it was allergies. Within another hour, my husband and I were sitting on the couch...talking about the wonderful day we had with our daughter. All of a sudden, I felt as if I couldn't get enough oxygen. Before long I was gasping for air, and couldn't breath. My husband wanted to call an ambulance, and I was about to let him! But my first thought was "maybe it's a panic attack", since I do get those sometimes. But this felt different. Plus I wasn't upset about anything. That is the only reason we didn't head to the hospital, I wanted to make sure it wasn't that. My husband got me a pill for anxiety, and I asked him for Benedryl, since my eyes were swelling. I took those, and held onto my husband because I thought seriously I was dying...and if I couldn't breath soon, I was going to let him call an ambulance. I waited about 10 minutes, then my breathing began to get better.

A few days later, I had told my other daughter about the plant Kimberly had found. I was looking for a picture on the Internet to send her...so she could see it. I came across this article:
http://www.arhomeandgarden.org/plantoftheweek/articles/Pencil_Cactus.htm
I couldn't believe it! What I had had was an allergic reaction to the plant a few days before! The man who wrote the article had ended up at the hospital! I now knew that it wasn't the anxiety pill that had helped me to breath, but the Benedryl. The hospital he went to administered antihistamines. The thing is, if I had gone to the hospital, I wouldn't have even thought it was a reaction to a plant! I'm sure he did, since he owned a plant store...and knew more about plants than I could ever hope to.

Come to find out, Tom and Kimberly put the plant in the garage just after a few days, because it was making their eyes burn. After hearing about my incident, they took it back to the plant place and got a refund. I'm sure many other people have this plant, and have no reactions to it at all. But I do believe that the stores who sell them, should post a sign about the possibilities, and have them in a safe place where children can't accidentally get the white milk on their hands. The substance can not be washed off with soap and water. I do believe this plant can be deadly and the person having the reaction would not even suspect a plant caused this.

Yes, as my daughter Kristie says, "It can only happen to you, Mom". Also my husband will not let me live down the fact that immediately he thought it was an evil plant. On the spiritual side, how many times are we drawn to something different and beautiful, that eventually may harm us? There is almost always "someone" warning us....and we don't see the danger. At least the Holy Spirit doesn't go around saying: I TOLD YOU SO.
(hint to my husband!)  :o)

20 comments:

Dana Delynn said...

Your last paragraph made me laugh! I am so glad you are okay.

Susie said...

Thank you Dana, I'm glad it made you laugh:) Yes, it was quite scary. I have just a few plants at home, because Zeke, my dog, likes to eat them. Glad I didn't bring this one home!

Sixteen Chickens said...

Would you believe my pediatrician's waiting room had three of these plants in it? Me neither, but they did. Talk about a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Susie said...

Sixteen, you need to call and tell them about it. I bet they have no idea how dangerous it is.

Ladeeda said...

I just moved in my condo a couple of weeks ago and have wanted to trim the strange plant growing in the corner of the patio. I noticed quite a bit of a milky substance oozing out of the plant while I cut it. I was wearing gloves and I think I brushed my hair back and got the milky stuff in my eye. Thought I was going to have to go to emergency clinic! Nearly vomited (I guess from the pain), and at one point when I stood up I though I was going to faint. I washed out my eye several times and it took over an hour for the pain to go away. I think your hubby had it right...this plant should be named "THE EVIL PLANT"!!!

Susie said...

Ladeeda, I'm glad you are all right! I would get rid of it if possible. Take Benedryl before you do it...gloves, long sleeves, head gear....in other words...BE CAREFUL! The article I found about it, said a man ended up in the hosptal...

Anonymous said...

Most plants are poisonous...

Anonymous said...

I've had one for years and I love it. It is the only plant I take with me whenever I move. (More frequently than I would like.) It is gigantic now, and I have never had any adverse reaction, though I am very sensitive to soaps, fragrances, etc. Everyone should not just assume it is poisonous to them.

Wickedheart said...

Well, Anonymous I wouldn't own one. It is a very dangerous plant. I know of 2 people who were severely injured by this plant. Just because you aren't allergic to it doesn't mean someone else coming into your home or an animal couldn't be harmed by it.

Wickedheart said...

Well, Anonymous I wouldn't own one. It is a very dangerous plant. I know of 2 people who were severely injured by this plant. Just because you aren't allergic to it doesn't mean someone else coming into your home or an animal couldn't be harmed by it.

phill said...

I live and work in the NT we had one of these pencil cactus trees about 15' tall it fell over in a storm so I cut it up with a chain saw had al the PPE on the sap got onto my face and my sweat ran down into my eyes taking the sap with it my eyes started to burn like hell went to hospital they had to flush my eyes for 12HRS then sent me to Darwin hospital to see the specialist only to find I had burnt the skin of my eye balls I thought i was going to be blind I could not see any thing for 3 days but with the right care my eyes are all most back to normal SO TREAT THIS PLANT WITH CAUTION

phill said...

I live and work in the NT we had one of these pencil cactus trees about 15' tall it fell over in a storm so I cut it up with a chain saw had al the PPE on the sap got onto my face and my sweat ran down into my eyes taking the sap with it my eyes started to burn like hell went to hospital they had to flush my eyes for 12HRS then sent me to Darwin hospital to see the specialist only to find I had burnt the skin of my eye balls I thought i was going to be blind I could not see any thing for 3 days but with the right care my eyes are all most back to normal SO TREAT THIS PLANT WITH CAUTION

phill said...

I live and work in the NT we had one of these pencil cactus trees about 15' tall it fell over in a storm so I cut it up with a chain saw had al the PPE on the sap got onto my face and my sweat ran down into my eyes taking the sap with it my eyes started to burn like hell went to hospital they had to flush my eyes for 12HRS then sent me to Darwin hospital to see the specialist only to find I had burnt the skin of my eye balls I thought i was going to be blind I could not see any thing for 3 days but with the right care my eyes are all most back to normal SO TREAT THIS PLANT WITH CAUTION

Anonymous said...

All people are different, everyone should think before they buy, eat, drink or speak. Putting a sign up is like putting a warning it's hot on a coffee cup. You have never seen a plant like this so you just bought it, you didn't ask what it was and ask questions or research it??? Just saying and asking..

Brendec7 said...

I recently purchased a home in Florida with not one, but two Pencil Cactus plants in the yard. A landscape specialist warned me about the dangers of the plant and said to make sure my dog didn't eat it. Just today I was cutting the top sprigs of the plant back so I could see my hummingbird feeder from inside the house. Obviously I didn't plan on tasting it - but apparently just TOUCHING the plant was enough to make my eyes and lips burn. I took a shower and rinsed my eyes with LiquiTears. They feel a little better but not at 100%. I can't wait to have some landscaping done to the yard and have them yank the Evil Plants OUT!

Anonymous said...

All euphorbias have the potential 4 causing this reaction. I'm surprised more ppl don't know this.the clue 2 this is the white milky sap. Most likely a euphorbia .

Anonymous said...

Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog jump
out. Please let me know where you got your design.
Kudos

Here is my web-site: meladerm

Thelma Frail said...

This is from the same family as Poinsettias. It has the same milky secretions.
Poinsettias are also poisonous, more to some than to others.

As "Anonymous" said, perhaps you should ask questions before you buy or do research before/after you purchase.

Kim Marsh said...

I came across this plant when I lived in the Cayman Islands. I had this reaction just walking near the tree twice in grand cayman and twice in Tijuana. Stuffy nose, sore throat, cough (deep congested), achy muscles, headache, then about a week into it 3 days of laryngitis, and the last week to 10 days (yes it lasts about 2 1/2 weeks) it was just a cough and sinus congestion. I am actually into week 2 now of this reaction and lost 3 days of work this week due to walking about 30 feet away from this tree. The doctors in Iowa don't know how to treat me except to try inhalers, sudofed, zpac and robitussin dm. Sorry but none of that is working except I suspect the zpac is making me feel worse. This is the 4th time this has happened to me and I would hate to see me if I went to Arizona or New Mexico where people have these as house plants and yard decorations. They originated from Madagascar.

Kim Marsh said...

Oh yes, I have been using young living essential oils which gives me breathing relief