What Is Phytophotodermatitis?

Before we go on to talk about some plants that inherently cause burns, there are some varieties that only cause blisters to form on your skin if they affect you in combination with the sun. Some examples in this regard include:

  • Carrot
  • Parsley
  • Parsnip

When you get the juice of these plants on your skin and the sun shines on you, a reaction takes place that causes blisters and leaves you in a lot of pain. Apart from these plants, there are some others that actually cause burns even without the presence of sunlight.

We will take a look at these plants that cause burns below.

Which Plants Cause Burns?

In this section, we will talk about plants that cause burns even when you come in contact with them for a short while. Therefore, if you have them in your garden or see them on a hike in the mountains, do not touch or hold them. More importantly, you should never eat these plants since they will be harmful to your body.

It is best to check the pictures of these plants on the Internet so that you can recognize them when you see them. Here is the list of plants that cause burns:

Tingling Brush

Tinglish brush is also called gympie gympie and is found in Australia. The plant can grow up to ten feet tall and only has one step. Its leaves are five to nine inches and are shaped like hearts. However, the edges have fine teeth on them and that should be an indication for you to never touch these plants.

From all other stinging tree species in the country, these are the most toxic. So, if you happen to travel to Australia on vacation, make sure you steer clear of this plant. When you touch this plant, it leads to the penetration of its hair into your skin.

As a result of that, you will feel a searing sensation that will aggravate into burning. The pain stays extreme for many days and you will have residual pain in that part of your body for a few years.

The quickest remedy, in this case, is to remove the hair of the plant from your skin using tweezers or a strip. Make sure you do not leave any hair inside you as it will make the pain only worse.

Beech Apple

Beech Apple is found in Northern and South America, especially in the Central regions and the Caribbean. It is also found in Florida. The plant is actually a tree that can be up to 40 feet high. The foliage is bright green and has a waxy texture. The fruit on this tree looks like green apples but you should not eat them at all since they are toxic although very sweet.

If you touch the plant, you will have bad burns on your skin. Some people report feeling a burning sensation even when they come close to the plant. Moreover, you should never eat its fruit since it is toxic.

Poison Ivy

Chances are that you have heard about this plant and its toxic properties. As the name implies, poison ivy is one of the plants you should avoid touching at all costs. The plant may appear as a short bush or a climbing vine.

It has glossy leaves that are a bit droopy. The leaves may turn red during the fall season. Poison Ivy is found in North America, but not in the desert regions. If you touch the plant, you will have a reddish rash on your skin. Over time, this rash will turn into blisters.

The quick treatment for this is to wash your skin with cold water immediately. Plus, you can put on calamine lotion to relieve itching. Moreover, taking an oatmeal bath can help as it will reduce itching, swelling, and the sensation of heat coming from the blisters.

Poison Oak

Here’s another plant that you should stay away from since it can lead to blisters on your skin. It’s a shrub that can also be in the form of a climbing wine. It’s found all over North America and causes redness and blisters if you come in contact with it.

It is similar to poison ivy in the regard that if you touch it, you should immediately keep your hand under cold water. Plus, you can take an oatmeal bath or put on anti-itch creams to treat the symptoms.


Most people know about hogweed being toxic. It can be in the form of common hogweed or giant hogweed. You should stay away from both kinds. They are present in the US and in different parts of Europe.

The plant has certain chemicals in it that can burn you if you touch it. Along with the leaves, you should also not touch the sap of this plant since it is toxic. When you come in contact with hogweed, you will notice blisters on your skin, especially if your skin has been exposed to sunlight.

Hogweeds look similar to water hemlocks, which are also very poisonous and toxic when touched. So, you should make it a rule of thumb to not touch tall plants that look like carrots and have white clustered flowers on them.

That is why it is good to see the pictures of all these plants on your phone before you go out in the wild for a picnic or camping.

Why Do Some Plants Cause Burns?

You might be wondering, why are there plants that cause burns. Here’s the thing: plants also need to protect themselves from predators like animals. If they are eaten by animals, they will not grow to their desired height.

That is why some plants have toxic chemicals in their leaves and sap that can cause blisters and burn in anyone that comes close to them. So, when an animal comes close to these plants to eat them, they get burnt by the chemicals in the foliage.

The same happens to you too. If you accidentally touch the leaves of these plants, they will release chemicals that will burn your skin. The weedy wildflowers that you often find in the wilderness have furocoumarins.

These chemicals are responsible for burning your skin. On the flip side, they are the saviors of plants who are a risk of being eaten otherwise.

Secondly, when you come in contact with some plants and there is sunlight in the area, the process of phytophotodermatitis starts. As a result of this process, blisters start forming on your skin and you also notice redness and swelling.

How To Avoid Plants that Cause Burns?

It’s not humanly possible for you to remember every plant that causes burns. Also, sometimes, when kids are playing outdoors, they might accidentally end up touching a plant that could burn them. So, how do you avoid touching plants that cause burns. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • If you are going out for a picnic or a hike, make sure you see the checklist of all wild plants and flowers in the area. For most regions, especially national parks, the government has a list of local flora and fauna on the regional websites. You can check this list before going out for leisure so that you don’t end up ruining your fun with blisters.
  • Read about plants that cause burns so that you can be familiar with the names of all plants that could possibly harm you.
  • If you want to be more prepared, see the pictures of all these plants on Google. You can also read up on the treatment methods so that you can quickly fix any problem in case you accidentally touch a plant.
  • Read about the plants that cause burns that are native to your state or city. Then, you can learn all about these plants, such as their location, symptoms, and treatment methods.