Firestick Cactus: The Plant With Acid Sap!



Image: H. Zell

The Firestick plant garnered some unwelcome publicity in late July 2010, by injuring Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. Pastor Warren’s mistake was to prune his plant, get sap on his hands, and then rub his forehead. The sap caused pain in his eyes, and he needed emergency treatment.

What is this dangerous plant? How can you protect yourself?


Image: H. Zell

Meet the Firestick

Firestick goes by several aliases, including “Indian Tree Spurge”, “Milk Bush”, “Naked Lady” and “Pencil Tree”. It is a succulent cactus – where “succulent” means “fleshy” or “juicy” but not in the sense of “appetizing” or “tasty”. The stem and leaves are, indeed, full of a milky sap. However, the sap is best described as corrosive, irritating, or toxic.

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