Man versus weed. It's a constant battle in Florida and every spring the enemy starts to get the upper hand. As residents struggle to gain control over unwanted plants, they often inadvertently tackle two toxic varieties with painful results.
Like dandelions and clover, poison ivy and stinging nettles make their appearance this time of year. Both of these plants have toxins that are highly irritable to human skin and can cause severe reactions and rashes. Poison ivy's sap, urushiol, causes the reaction and is present in the plant's leaves, stems and roots. Stinging nettles have tiny hairs loaded with a toxin that act as the plant's defense mechanism. These fine hairs get lodged into the skin.
Use the photos (at right) to help identify these plants. If you have the misfortune of coming across either plant, here are some suggestions:
To help prevent exposure, wear a long sleeve shirt, pants, gloves and closed two shoes while working in your yard.
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