Many new Floridians are surprised to find how many plants, bushes, vines and trees in the state can hurt you. Stems, fronds, leaves or other parts can inflict pain or injury if not handled carefully.

When we first moved into our home, we hired a landscape service to teach us a bit about the plants in our yard. As we explain on our About page, we were complete rookies as far as landscape maintenance was concerned.

As the professional landscaper walked around the yard, he pointed out some of the plants that have sharp or pointed parts. He actually grabbed me to stop me from walking into the fronds of a Pineapple Palm tree. At that time, it was about five feet high.

The base of the fronds, those closest to the trunk, have extremely sharp, needle like points. They can do some serious damage.

When I trim that palm, it is rare to come away without some blood being shed. To make matters worse, the sharp points seem to have an irritant on them that makes the punctures in the skin all the more painful.

It is very wise to always wear protective gloves when working outdoors.

When choosing work gloves, please purchase good thick leather gloves, I promise you won’t be sorry. Ladies, don’t even think about working in the Florida landscape with cute cotton gloves with birdies printed on them. One grab at a beautiful Bougainvillea branch and you will soon be looking for a bandage. Even with good, thick, leather gloves, the Bougainvillea can poke through and cause a bit of pain.

Some of the popular cactus plants, such as the Century Plant, have razor sharp edges that love to slice your legs as you pass by. The aptly named Saw Palmetto, has stems that resemble a saw, that cause many scratches to arm and legs.

One of our favorite plants, the Crown of Thorns lives up to its name as well. The stems have sharp thorns protruding. They can be handled, with care, using good leather gloves. This plant is so easy to propagate, just stick a cutting in the ground, give it a bit of water and it grows into another plant. The plants produce small flowers all year round, require very little care and are hardy. They are susceptible to freezing and need to be covered if you are in a part of the state where the temperatures dip into the low 30s.

We had a Yucca plant in the yard for a little while. It was a very pretty green plant, about six feet tall. The dark green leaves had points at the ends that were like needles. I am not kidding; these things pierced the skin and hurt like crazy. The plant is often referred to as Spanish Dagger. Needless to say, this plant was removed after one season. I don’t miss it one bit.

Another reason to ALWAYS wear heavy gloves is there a good supply of bugs, bees, spiders, scorpions and snakes in Florida. Most are harmless; those that are not usually avoid us as much as we would like to avoid them. Nevertheless, if you are pruning or weeding, there is a chance that you may be bitten or stung by something making a home in the landscape. This is a lesson you will learn sooner or later. Make sure you wear gloves and you will be fine.



FOG sez:

Some of the plants are an irritant. Many people say the same thing about me.