Did You Know San Marcos Dems’ Website Has A Sustainability Page With Lots Of Information On Going Green, Helping Pollinators, And Safe Gardening?

Are you interested in leading a more green lifestyle? Do you know that Milkweed and Fireplants/Sticks on Fire are corrosive and toxic? We have some tips for you. Below is a sample of information found at Sustainability.

How to help pollinators:

Toxic Plants that are popular in drought tolerant gardens!

Euphorbiaceae family of plants: Sticks On Fire, Firestick, Pencil Cactus, Pencil Tree have irritating and toxic sap!
Native to Africa, they are interesting, attractive, easy-care plants found throughout the are BUT the corrosive milky, white sap is quite toxic to people, dogs, cats, horses, and other living creatures, often causing severe irritation to skin, mucosa, and eyes upon contact.

Red firestick plant

The sap is one of the most irritating plant substances known and yet it is being planted as a great drought plant. It is found around school, playgrounds, and even city and county buildings!!!


Symptoms of Poisoning:
Any time you handle, bump, cut, or disturb it, you run the risk of coming in contact with the sap which can drip or even squirt to protect itself. It is produced in copious amounts and contains a toxic component known as diterpene ester. Even if you wear gardening gloves or clothing, OR if the sap is dry, you are not fully protected. And the fumes can be toxic as well, especially if it gets in your eyes.

This plant is classified by poison control centers as a chemical skin irritant. Contact with the eyes results in light sensitivity, redness, swollen eyelids, blurred vision, and even bleeding. Sap in your eyes can cause corneal damage and temporary blindness if not treated. Treat by immediately rinsing the eye and continue for 15 minutes, being careful to not let the water run over skin or into another eye. Then seek medical help!

Skin exposure can result in swelling, severe burning or itching, blisters and peeling skin. Sometimes skin exposure has a delayed reaction, so do not wait for symptoms to occur. Immediately rinse the area with COLD WATER being careful not to contaminate another part of your body. If your pet is exposed or injests the plant, take it to your veterinarian immediately.

Allergic reactions can happen with any sort of contact with the sap (skin, eye, or ingestion) and result in shortness of breath, jangly nerves, anxiety, and even anaphylactic shock. Seek medical help.

If ingested, the corrosive sap will cause severe burning of the lips, mouth, and tongue, extreme salivation, stomach cramps, and vomiting are common symptoms of ingestion. Always seek medical help for ingestion.

How to Avoid Contact:
The best was to avoid is to not have this plant in your yard. Next is to put up physical barriers to protect you, children, pets and visitors. When you need to prune, wear disposable gloves and eye protection, along with long pants and a long-sleeved shirt made of materials that are heavy enough to deflect the sap if it should get on you*. DO NOT RUB your eyes! Dispose of your cuttings in plastic bags in the trash so they are not a risk to sanitation workers – you might even mark the bag as Fireplant cuttings.

Whether or not you think you have common contact with the sap, play it safe and wash hands, forearms, face, and any other skin (or hair) that might have come in contact with the sap, and then take a cool shower. Using hot water will only spread the sap, making matters worse.

*Nursery personnel cutting Firesticks have been seeing wearing Googles, gloves, facemask, and Tyvek spray suit!