Plants & Trees to Avoid

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Plants to Avoid while Hiking

Virgin Islands National Park offers a variety of hiking adventures for the entire family and for all skill and ability levels. This page describes plants to be avoided while hiking as well as precautions and remedies should you come in contact with any of them. Should you wish to learn more, a simple Internet search will provide a wealth of information.
Christmas bush (Comocladia dodonaea)
Photo by Dan Clark

Christmas Bush

A small shrub that is found in open canopies and along trails. It has dark green leaves that can have a reddish hue. It resembles holly.
Symptoms: Burning, itching skin, swelling, irritation and rash that
can last up to several weeks.
Remedy: Possible use of anti-itch creams or ointments.
Manchineel or Death Apple Tree
Photo by Dan Clark

Manchineel or Death Apple (Hippomane mancinella)(extremely toxic)

Found near and on coastal beaches, has shiny heart-shaped leaves with yellow veins. Ingestion of the small green apple- like fruit can cause Death!
Symptoms: Severe burning and blistering of the skin, temporary blindness.
Remedy: Wash with soap and water; if severe reaction, seek medical treatment.
Stinging Nettle
Need newe photo

Stinging Nettle (Tragia volubilis)

A twining vine that has stinging nettle hairs. Typically found in disturbed areas, along trails and in moist forests.
Symptoms: Instant pain and burning, rash and sometimes blisters.
Remedy: Possible use of anti-itch creams or ointments.
Catch and Keep (Acacia retusa)
Photo by Dan Clark

Catch & Keep (Acacia riparia)

A common weed that forms dense thickets of vine-like vegetation. It is found throughout the island. Covered in hundreds of hooked spines, catch and keep is aptly named for its ability to hook into and hold anything.
Symptoms: Barbed spines can penetrate skin causing dozens of cuts, irritation, redness, swelling and infection.
Remedy: Wash wounds, apply antibiotic ointment or cream.

Jump-Up-Cactus or Prickly Pear

Common in dry forests, is covered by dozens of long, sharp, barbed spines and grows in dense low- growing clumps. Spines easily penetrate clothing and can become imbedded in skin.
Symptoms: Localized pain, inflammation, irritation and rash.
Remedy: Remove spines carefully to alleviate pain.
Casha Tree (Acacia macracantha)
Photo by Dan Clark

Casha Tree (Acacia maracantha)

Found in drier areas along the coastline, adjacent to trails or on hillsides.
These common trees can reach heights of 30 feet and have dozens of spines along the
Symptoms: Deep puncture wounds, redness, painful swelling, localized pain and
Remedy: If infection develops seek medical attention.

Pencil bush (Euphorbia tirucalli)
Photo by Dan Clark

Pencil bush (Euphorbia tirucalli)

A small shrub-like tree used as an ornamental plant. Distinguished by hundreds of bright green pencil-thin cylindrical branches, it secretes a milky sap when cut or damaged.
Symptoms: Skin irritation, severe rash and blisters, blindness if it gets in the eyes.
Remedy: Wash affected area immediately with soap and water. Seek immediate medical attention for eye or mouth exposure.
Jimson weed (Datura inoxia)
Photo by Christy McManus

Jimson Weed (Datura inoxia) Extremely toxic

The Jimson weed is an extremely toxic member of the Belladonna family. The small shrub is often found in recently disturbed areas such as road sides and should be avoided. It is easily recognized from the white trumpet-shaped flowers.

Last updated: September 20, 2018

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1300 Cruz Bay Creek
St. John, VI 00830


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