Euphorbia Alert

Credit: Ernst Kucklich

Euphorbias are hardy, easy, popular, and… poisonous! A word to the wise gardener: Avoid pruning Euphorbia. If you must prune, exercise extreme caution: wear sturdy gloves, and never get the sap in your eyes; the milky-white liquid can cause temporary blindness. Tom Ogren, a botanist and writer whose expertise is plant allergens (, advises gardeners to prune or take cuttings of Euphorbia only in well-ventilated areas, never indoors, to avoid inhalation of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Considered one of the two most allergenic major plant families – the other is the Anacardiaceae (cashew) family – Euphorbia produces sap that is extremely irritating to the skin; in fact, just a few drops from certain species can kill a pond full of fish.