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Green Cnidoscolus urens inflorescence with white flowers, yellow stamens and green spiny seeded capsules
Cnidoscolus urens
Cnidoscolus urens

Originating in Central and South America, this perennial, tropical American stinging herb,is notorious for its stinging hairs covering the entire structure, which upon contact, break off and inject cell contents similar to a hypodermic syringe causing severe skin irritation that could last for days. The white flowers it bears come in cymes, leading to a spiny 3-seeded capsule. These seeds, rich in fats and proteins, bear resemblance to those of Ricinus communis and are primarily dispersed by ants attracted to their edible elaiosome‚Äč. Consumption can lead to alarming symptoms like swelling of the lips, facial flushing, vomiting, and in severe cases, unconsciousness. The corrosive latex it secretes can cause serious sores. Photographed in the department of Magdalena, Colombia.


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