Sun Spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia)
Sun Spurge (Euphorbia Helioscopia)

Harrogate pensioner in hospital after the sap from garden weed gets in her eye

2 September 2021

A woman in her 80s was rushed to hospital with excruciating pain, having uprooted plants of a very common garden weed from her garden.

Pensioner Brenda Slack was unaware that she had rubbed the sap of sun spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia) into her eye.

Brenda said:

It was like having the juice of the hottest chilli pepper in my eye and the pain was worse than anything I could ever imagine.

At home she had flushed her eye with water and neighbour and wildlife conservationist John Bradfield suggested using milk, which made a slight improvement, but she was still left in horrendous agony.

He rang the accident and emergency department to say he would be rushing her there and gave staff the name of the garden weed. On arrival she was calling out in such tremendous pain, that she could not wait in a queue to be assessed.

He had advised that the sap may cause permanent eye damage or even blindness.

When the stems of the weed are broken or crushed, they ooze a sap which looks like milk. That and all other parts of the weed are poisonous and can cause skin blisters especially in strong sunlight and a very severe burning sensation in the mouth and eyes.

Brenda Slack said:

There are other wild spurges and surprisingly, garden centres sell exotic types which are also dangerous.

The National Poisons Information Service has since informed her, that it provides hospital staff with 24/7 advice on necessary treatments, when anyone’s health is in danger, from any wild or garden spurge.

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