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The U.S. Most Painful Plant ⚠️

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Those who have experienced the intense burning, itching pain on their skins that may last for days, or have had an allergic reaction after stepping on or touching it by mistake, will probably know the answer right away.

They may even have had to get an antibiotic from their doctor to stop the hot, red tenderness and swelling caused by the rapidly spreading rash after turning into cellulitis.

A few more clues for those who are lucky enough not to have encountered it:

  • You will find it in Louisiana, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, the northeastern state of Tamaulipas in Mexico, and Texas.
  • It grows on dunes, along riverbanks, on dry pastures, old fields, and flood plains.
  • You will find it among trees and in woods, on sunny descents, and it loves sandy, loose soil.
  • The U.S. Most Painful PlantThe hairs on the leaves and stems behave like needles when they connect with your skin, and their spikes deposit the chemicals that cause a stinging rash.
  • It gets much worse when you touch, rub, or scratch it, as doing so pushes the chemicals deeper into the skin.

Rio Grande wild turkeys, mourning doves, quail, and songbirds love to eat the seeds, and it attracts insects such as butterflies, beetles, and bees.

How to Identify a Bull Nettle Plant

Very carefully. Watch out for this herbaceous, perennial, drought-tolerant plant during the summer months when you get out of your ATV, play golf, go hiking, camping, or are mowing your yard or fields. The spines can even penetrate clothing if there is enough pressure.

The U.S. Most Painful Plant

The bull nettle flowers in early spring and into mid-summer. It can bloom throughout the year in the southernmost regions and from March to November further north.

Hairs cover the two- to six-inch-long green, crinkly-looking leaves.

Each leaf divides into three to five irregularly or toothed leaflets or lobes, and they appear off and on along the stem, which releases a milky sap when broken.

Related: The Toothache Plant That Every Prepper Should Grow

Every plant presents fragrant, white, round, separate but concurrent male and female flowers clustered on a stem consisting of a main bough or complex assembly of branches. The flowers comprise five to seven lobed sepals that look like petals covered with hispid hairs.

Each flower has a three-lobed pistil, ten or more stamens, and large, fragile pollen.

The U.S. Most Painful Plant

The bull nettle has a deep taproot and branching stems that grow up to 40 inches long. Three or four distinct compartments secured by a round, tough, prickly seedpod contain the fruits or seeds. The fleshy outside part shrinks to reveal the hardy shell holding the four compartments when the seeds mature.

Each pod contains three cylindrical, brownish-white, smooth, half- to three-quarter-inch long seeds.

Why Does the Bull Nettle Hurt so Bad?

The hairs on the bull nettle release an allergen or toxin when it touches your skin. Its fine hairs are a medium into the epidermal and dermal skin layers for the secretions the plant discharges. The spikes emit corroding irritants as they break off inside the skin.

If an animal makes oral contact with the plant, it will salivate profusely and rub its mouth.

The U.S. Most Painful PlantDo not touch the area where you have brushed the bull nettle for at least ten minutes. You will be able to remove the poisonous chemical easier if you let it dry first. Rubbing or touching will exacerbate the stinging, burning, and itching rash and cause the effects to last longer than usual.

Wash the toxin with soap and water after ten minutes to reduce the painful swelling and redness. Use a clean cloth to wipe the area properly if you do not have these available.

You want to use durable masking or duct tape to remove the spikes from your skin as soon as possible. Try wax hair removal strips for faster relief if the adhesive tape does not work. The effects may last for 24 hours or longer.

Juices from the dock or jewelweed plants that often grow near the culprit may provide relief. Crush the big, oval-shaped dock leaves with red stems, wavy edges, and rounded tips and apply them to your skin. You can identify jewelweed by its yellowish-orange trumpet-shaped flowers and egg-shaped leaves with serrated edges and smooth, dull upper surfaces.

Related: How to Make a Natural Remedy for Food Poisoning

The U.S. Most Painful PlantOther remedies include dabbing on – rather than rubbing – a weak ammonia solution, Windex, tobacco, spit, urine, apple cider, vinegar, or aloe vera. You can try a paste consisting of baking soda and water three or more times a day for 30 minutes at a time until it does not burn or itch any longer.

Cold compresses may also help, as may OTC hydrocortisone cream and insect sting creams or wipes. We cannot guarantee that all the above suggestions will be successful, however.

Beneficial Uses for the Bull Nettle

The edible seeds scatter when they are ripe, and the pod bursts open, propelling them away from the plant. The Native American peoples harvested and consumed them, and you can still do so today.

Related: 5 Poisonous Plants That Can Be Used As Medicine When SHTF

The U.S. Most Painful Plant

To prevent injury while collecting, you need thick gloves, boots, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and tongs to pick up the pods.

Drop the seedpods into a paper bag, wait for them to ripen and burst open, then collect the appetizing, nutty-flavored seeds and eat them raw or roast them.

Dig up the large roots with a shovel, starting further away from the plant than you might think. Cut and clean it from the part above ground and peel the bark off.

You can boil, bake, or roast the taproot as you would a potato or do so twice as you need to when making poke salad. The center is inedible and fibrous.

Now You Know Which is the Most Painful Plant in the US

You may want to get rid of these resilient, invasive plants on your property and are in for a battle. There are not many options when it comes to controlling, killing, or eradicating the bull nettle.

You can try digging down to the top of the taproot and place a number ten tin over it. Push it down and cover it over. You may end up with a field full of underground cans because the plants will grow back if you remove them. Another option is to use chemicals, which may not be your preference.

Texas Cooperative Extension and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station professionals have created, evaluated, and endorsed two three-step, convenient, effective, and environmentally responsible practices to control the Texas Bullnettle.

You can treat a large infestation with the ground broadcast spray method and smaller or scattered penetrations with the individual plant leaf spray method. You will need to repeat the treatments until you get the problem under control as the seeds spread, and you will need to stamp out the new seedlings. It would help if you got rid of plus-minus seven out of every ten plants.

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