Is Pencil Cactus Toxic? | 10 Interesting Facts About Toxic Pencil Cactus |

Is pencil cactus toxic? Yes they are. They usually contain a poisonous irritating sap which could be toxic when you get in contact with them.

Pencil cactus is an interesting, attractive cactus. Moreover, they are easy to care. This would be a great pick for the freshers in gardening due to the minimum care treatment they require.

Firestick plant, milk bush, naked lady, pencil tree and Malabar tree are some of the common names which you could use to call the pencil cactus. Also, they belong to the family Euphorbiaceae.

Their sap could be poisonous for many of the animals’ such as dogs, cats, horses and for humans as well.

So, if you own a pencil cactus and if you wish to educate yourself on the toxicity of the pencil cactus towards the animals, continue reading this article.

You could learn how to treat them in case you come across such a situation and what are the steps you need to take to avoid that happening.

Pencil Cactus toxic
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Which part of the plant is toxic?

Unfortunately, the entire pencil cactus would be toxic, and you cannot find any safe part of the plant.

Whenever you interact with the plant, keep in mind that you have the risk of getting allergies due to the sap the plant contains.

The toxins usually form in copious amounts. Further those toxins comprise diterpene esters.

In case you cut the plant or interrupt it, its sap will start to squirt. They tend to do that usually to safeguard the plant from any further repercussions.

Why do pencil cactus toxic?

Pencil cactus sap contains a noxious element which you could call as latex. Those are the diterpene esters which could create trouble. Their sap comprises acidic properties. Pencil cactus has an abundance of this irritating sap.

Moreover, these cacti could thrive in numerous conditions which would allow them to spread a lot. If you taste them, you will feel the unpleasant taste.

When you consider the pets who could get in contact with this plant’s sap, chances are that they could rub the sap whilst using their paws and it could even reach the eyes of them. Dogs could also ingest it and lick the sap off from the tree.

Animal affected by pencil cactus toxic 

Pencil cactus would be poisonous for humans most importantly. Apart from humans it could affect dogs, horses, cats as well.

Once they get in contact with the plant sap, it could cause intestinal and skin injuries on a severe level.

Pencil Cactus toxic

Is pencil cactus toxic to touch?

Consider that you are cutting the leaves, then you could spot how a milky sap is coming out from it. These plants have inherited the name called milk bush due to the irritating latex element they produce.

Hence, always make sure that you do not get in contact with the plant since it could harm your skin and could be irritative. 

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On the other hand, if you have placed the pencil cactus in an appropriate location by a windowsill, it would not create any harmful effect for anybody as nobody could reach the plant.

Having said that, it is always not possible to avoid touching it. In case you are going to interact with the plant, ensure that you take some precautionary steps to protect yourself from getting skin irritations and from skin poisoning from this sap.

Please be mindful to not to leave the kids hanging around with the cactus. In addition to that, always make sure that you wear protective gloves when you attend to the plant’s maintenance activities such as pruning .

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Symptoms of pencil cactus poisoning. 

If you come across any situation where you get the irritating sap on your gardening gloves or even on your clothes, there is a risk of you being exposed to the skin irritation .

You could have the irritation for hours and it could last for days. The poisoning could be severe as the skin irritation could occur even after it dries out. 

Not only that but also, it would be attributed for eye injuries and for temporary blindness as well. So, you hope you can imagine the danger it could cause if you expose to them.

In case, those toxins reach your eyes, there would be symptoms such as ,

  • Light sensitivity
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Blurred vision
  • Bleeding in the eye.

When the sap is exposed to your skin, following are the symptoms such as

  • severe irritation in the skin,
  • redness and burning feeling in the skin etc.

Moreover, if you ingest it,

  • Burns in your mouth, lips and in your tongue
  • Extreme salivation,
  • Stomach cramps and
  • Vomiting

Chances are that there could be breathing problems and anxiety whenever you get in contact with the sap of the pencil cactus.

You need to make sure that you treat them immediately unless it could be even lethal for humans and for pets as well. Best is to consult a doctor to treat whenever you are involved with a pencil cactus toxins and if you come across these symptoms.

Pencil Cactus toxic

How to confirm the pencil cactus poisoning?

You could refer to the following signs to ascertain whether you are poisoned from the pencil cactus sap whenever you interact with the plant.

  1. Severe to mild level Pain.
  2. Swelling.
  3. Redness in skin or in eyes
  4. Ulceration.
  5. Temporary or permanent blindness.
  6. Chances are that it could even cause permanent blindness as well.

If you encounter a situation where the sap gets in contact with the skin, you could see how immediately the skin, or the eyes turn red.

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Further you could feel like they are burning and blistering and will finally end up having a rash.

You could spot this among both humans and in animals. By any chance if the sap gets in contact with your eye, chances are that your eyes will start to swallow, and you would feel a severe pain there.

If you ingest the sap, you will start vomiting and would even end up getting diarrhea. Unfortunately, if you consume them in bigger quantities, it could be lethal on you and on your animals as well.

Moreover, both humans and animals who have allergic reactions towards these toxins could go through anaphylactic shock. You need to immediately consult a doctor and get their medication.  

Pencil cactus poisoning treatment 

In terms of treatments for the toxicity of the pencil cactus, it would mainly consist of an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine.

If the rash you get worse and if you have breathing problems or if you get high fever, the best is to immediately contact the doctor.

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Pencil cactus poisoning first aid

They could cause severe repercussions to your eyes to such a level where it could even cause blindness and damage to the corneas in case you do not attend to them and remedy them immediately.

Ideally you need to rinse the affected eye continuously  for about 15 minutes. When you do that, make sure that the rinsed water does not reach the unaffected eye or over your skin.

If those toxins contact the skin, you need to sluice the area whilst using chill water at the very moment you contact it. Be vigilant when you wash to not spread the washed sap to any unaffected area of your body.

Avoid taking a warm bath once you are involved with these plants as it could contribute to spreading the sap more on your body instead of eradicating it from your skin. It will cause more trouble for you if you use hot water for showering purposes.

If your dog has contacted the pencil cactus sap, you need to immediately wash it to get rid of the sap off the skin. Please consult a veterinarian if the dog seems to be unwell.

At hospital

If your pet had contacted the pencil cactus sap, the veterinarian could use a solution to wash the eye, and it would make them feel comfy whilst reducing the pain. You better consult a specialist if it has been poisoned to a great level.

In terms of oral medication, it would not work heavily in this circumstance. Having said that, if your pet keeps vomiting, there is a high potential of dehydration.  

Is pencil cactus toxic to humans?

Pencil cactus could be toxic for humans on a greater level. It produces a sap which you could call latex. It is an acidic milky white sap. Whenever the stem of the pencil cactus is broken, you could spot it coming out. As such, be mindful to not to get in contact with that.

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Chances are that it could create major skin irritations. Apart from that there would be mouth irritations as well as eye irritations too. if the poisoning is on a greater level, you could even suffer with gastrointestinal issues and with blindness too.

Avoid planting him away from kids and toddlers who could be victims of the sap of this cactus.

Precautions you can take

First and foremost, you could avoid planting it in your yard. If you insist yourself in having one of these plants in your yard, you may place physical barriers which would avoid any potential accidental injury to anybody.

Ideally you could place a fence and avoid anybody reaching the cactus.

Whenever you are interacting with the plant to prune them or do other necessary maintenance work, you should wear disposable gloves and eye protection.

Not only that but also, make sure you are covering your whole body whilst wearing long sleeves and long pants. The material of those clothing should also be heavy enough which could deflect the sap if by any chance you get in contact with it.

Once you are finished interacting with the plant, you need to take off the protective gear and clothing correctly without letting anybody touch them accidently. Wash your hands properly, forearms, face and even your skin with cool water.  

On the other hand, if you prune or trimmed your pencil cactus, you need to dispose of them instead of burning them. In case you burn them, chances are that those toxins could add into the air and would make it harmful.

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Related question

Can a pencil cactus blind you?

It could create a blindness in you on a temporary basis. The white sap or the latex is the reason which could be attributed to blindness.

Be extra cautious if you are someone who has allergy reactions towards the latex. They would be more vulnerable to have eye irritations and could get temporary blindness as aforesaid. If you are not allergic towards latex, you could rinse to get rid of the toxins.

Is the sap from a cactus poisonous?

Cactus sap is generally not harmful. If it is pencil cactus sap or any other euphorbia sap only, it could be poisonous. Usually, the cactus sap does not create any trouble if you touch them and or if it contacts the skin.

How do you treat pencil cactus rash?

You could mainly treat a pencil cactus rash with an antihistamine. If you spot the allergic reaction has spread on a severe level, you could go for medication and consult a doctor and get his advice.

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About author

I’m Dr. Chamika, As a hobby love talking about plants and showing you that taking care of indoor plants. My website is knowledge I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn about growing succulents. If you’re a succulent lover, then you have come to the correct place.