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Euphorbiaceae Cnidoscolus urens (L.)Arthur

Euphorbiaceae Cnidoscolus urens
| | W.D. Hawthorne

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Species information

Description
lobed; hairs stinging; cluster of pointed glands near base.

Interest
From the Greek for nettle and thorn. This tropical American genus comprises some 75 species of nettles. Cnidoscolus was at one time included within Jatropha L. from which it was separated on the basis of its stinging hairs (Thurston & Lersten 1969). Stinging hairs have been noted on the following species (Altschul 1973, Jacobsen 1974, Bailey & Bailey 1976, Morton 1981): Cnidoscolus urens Arthur (syn. Jatropha urens L.) Brazilian Stinging Nut The latex is capable of burning the skin to produce serious sores; the poisonous hairs produce great irritation of the skin which may last for several days (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962, Von Reis & Lipp 1982). Wimmer (1926), Standley (1927), and Altschul (1973) also refer to the stinging hairs of this species. Lutz (1914) described an extreme reaction following contact with 10 of the stinging hairs on the left hand. This resulted in an increasingly painful swelling of the hand spreading to the arm and subsequently to the other arm and to the face about the eyes and nose. A strong itching sensation was felt over the upper parts of the body; red pimples appeared everywhere. Cardiac and respiratory distress led to unconciousness. This species is considered to be dangerous to both man and livestock (Lutz 1914).

Specimen information

Collector
Hawthorne, W.D.

Specimen Number
s.n.