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Tread Softly Cnidoscolus stimulosus


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Tread Softly
credit: Geoff Gallice/CCSA

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Alternate name: Finger-rot

Family: Euphorbiaceae, Spurge view all from this family

Description This plant, covered with stinging hairs, bears fragrant, bright white flowers.
Habit: native perennial herb; taprooted.
Height: 4-36 in (10-90 cm)
Leaf: alternate, deeply palmately divided, 3-5 lobes, 2-9 in (5-22.5 cm) long, long stalked.
Flower: male flower, white star, 5-parted, with long narrow lobes, held in terminal cluster; female flower inconspicuous, in lower leaf axils; male and female flowers on different plants.
Fruit: small capsule, oblong.

Warning The stinging hairs that cover this plant can produce a painful rash on contact and cause a severe reaction in some people. The sting is similar to that of Stinging Nettles.

Flower March to October, or year-round, depending on location.

Habitat Well-drained sandy soil, usually in the coastal plain: pinelands, sandy woods, sandhills, dunes, coastal uplands, pastures, old fields, roadsides; also cultivated as an ornamental or for landscape restoration.

Range Native to southeastern U.S., from Virginia, south to Florida, west to Alabama and Louisiana, north to Kentucky; not reported in Tennessee.

Also called spurge nettle, finger rot, seven-minute itch, stinging nettle, bull nettle.