We had an interesting enquiry this week from someone who wanted a plant in their garden identified. They had brushed up against the plant in question and it had caused a rash to form on their skin. The rash had to be treated with antibiotics.
The plant in question was Rhus typhina ‘Laciniata’, a fairly common plant in gardens. Rhus typhina, or Stag’s Horn Sumach, has elegant, finely divided foliage that turns beautiful shades of orange and red in autumn. Like all Rhus, is produces a sap that can cause irritation to the skin, so gloves should be worn when handling this plant. I have one in my own garden and have never had any problems with skin irritation, so it is possible that some folk may just be more susceptible than others. However, after seeing what could happen, I think I will be wearing gloves and long sleeves from now on if I have to do any work on my plant.
It just goes to show that we should always take care in the garden, even with plants we think we know well. Even very common plant like daffodils and hyacinths can cause irritation some.