14 Plants That Irritate Skin | Plants That Can Make You Itch

From stinging nettle to velvetleaf, this detailed guide covers all you need to know about Plants That Irritate Skin!

Gardening offers multiple benefits, from stress relief to home aesthetics. However, not all plants are as benign as they seem. There are some Plants That Irritate Skin. Learn more about these botanical specimens below.

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Plants That Irritate Skin

1. Stinging Nettle

Plants That Irritate Skin 1

Botanical Name: Urtica dioica

Stinging nettles are known for their fine, needle-like hairs on their leaves and stems. Brushing against these hairs releases irritants that cause a stinging, burning sensation on the skin. While handling stinging nettles, always wear gloves to avoid contact.

2. Poison Ivy

Plants That Irritate Skin 2

Botanical Name: Toxicodendron radicans

Recognized by clusters of three leaflets, poison ivy contains urushiol oil that triggers an itchy rash upon contact. These plants that irritate skin are endemic throughout the United States and Southern Canada.

3. Poison OakPlants That Irritate Skin 3

Botanical Name: Toxicodendron diversilobum

Like poison ivy, poison oak features three leaflets and contains urushiol resin that can cause contact dermatitis. This plant produces yellowish-green blooms along with red and gold leaves in fall.

4. Poison Sumac

Plants That Irritate Skin 4

Botanical Name: Toxicodendron vernix

Poison sumac is a highly toxic plant native to North America. It contains urushiol, an oily resin that causes severe allergic reactions such as redness, itching, blistering, and swelling. Often found in wet, swampy areas, it can be easily identified by clusters of grayish-white berries.

5. Wood Nettle

Plants That Irritate Skin 5

Botanical Name: Laportea canadensis

Wood nettle is an erect perennial herb commonly found in moist bottomlands of rivers and streams. Its leaves and stems contain stinging hairs that cause intense burning, itching, or stinging. These skin issues usually subside within an hour.

6. Wild Poinsettia

Plants That Irritate Skin 6

Botanical Name: Euphorbia cyathophora

Wild poinsettia, also known as fire-on-the-mountain, features green leaves and striking red bracts surrounding the inconspicuous flowers. It secretes a milky sap that can irritate the skin, leading to redness and itching.

7. Texas Bull Nettle

Plants That Irritate Skin 7

Botanical Name: Cnidoscolus texanus

Covered in stinging hairs, texas bull nettles can cause intense dermal pain, burning, and itching upon contact. These plants that irritate skin produce attractive, small white or green flowers. Texas bull nettles are often found in sandy or disturbed soils.

8. Giant HogweedGiant Hogweed

Botanical Name: Heracleum mantegazzianum

Giant hogweed is a notorious invasive plant that poses a serious risk to skin health. It produces a sap containing harmful compounds known as furanocoumarins. When this sap comes into contact with skin and is exposed to sunlight, it triggers a severe skin reaction known as phytophotodermatitis.

9. TansyTansy

Botanical Name: Tanacetum vulgare

Tansy’s fern-like leaves contain thujone oil, which leads to skin irritation or contact dermatitis. Always exercise caution while handling tansy, especially if you have a history of skin sensitivities.

10. Cowhage


Botanical Name: Mucuna pruriens

Cowhage, scientifically known as Mucuna pruriens, is notorious for its skin-irritating effects. This tropical plant has tiny, hair-like structures on its young foliage and seed pods, which cause severe itching and rashes upon contact. While cowhage has medicinal properties, handling this plant without precautions can lead to discomfort.

11. CactiCacti

Botanical Name: Cactaceae

Cacti are among the plants that cause skin irritation because of their spines. When the sharp, tiny barbs penetrate the skin, they can lead to localized pain, redness, and even swelling. Some species can also cause allergic reactions, complicating the irritation further.

12. RueRue

Botanical Name: Ruta graveolens

Rue is a perennial herb often used for its ornamental and medicinal qualities. However, caution is advised when handling this plant. Rue causes phytophotodermatitis—a skin reaction triggered by sunlight that leads to skin irritation and blistering.

13. Wild Parsnip

Wild Parsnip

Botanical Name: Pastinaca sativa

Wild parsnip contains furocoumarins that make skin sensitive to light, causing burns and blisters. It has pinnate leaves and produces clusters of yellow flowers. This plant is often found in open fields and along roadsides.

14. Velvetleaf


Botanical Name: Abutilon theophrasti

The coarse hairs on velvetleaf leaves and stems can irritate the skin upon touch. Also known as wild cotton and buttonweed, velvetleaf features heart-shaped hairy foliage and five-petalled yellow flowers.

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