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 Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?

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Squil

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PostSubject: Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?   Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:49 pm

I visited the collection of a quite prolific cactus grower recently and we talked of the dangers of falling in a cactus patch.

Both custodians of this impressive garden told me stories of the various cactus-related injuries they had experienced in the past. I was told that a serious wound to the hand resulted in an arthritis-like pain for days after.

Apparently there is little known about the action of this irritation however the phenomenon seems familiar enough to experienced cactus-heads.

I've been thinking about it recently. Either the spines have an innately injurious substance or nature or they are essentially inert and it is an immune reaction that causes the grief in victims of spine-pricks.

I'd be interested in hearing people's experience with pricks, especially the genus of cacti involved, the severity of the injury and the after-effects in full gory detail.

I'd also be interested in tracking down electron micrographs of cactus spine morphology if anyone has any idea where to find these.
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Hellonasty
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PostSubject: Re: Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?   Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:10 pm

I have no "real" or scientific info just my own blunders Smile

There is definetly more to it that just a simple pick in the hand/arm/head/nose/feet !! The spines of cacti and in particular larger older cacti seem to induce a histamine response. Giving the poor sole the usual histamine reaction, swelling, really itchy, red. Simmilar to some insect bites.

I have no idea of the mode of action or why this occurs just that it hurst and swells up quite a bit. I was stuck recently in the foot with a Cereus Peruvianus spine, it hurt like buggery and remained swollen and red for 3 or 4 days. It was all my own fault. I cut the plant for grafting and left an offcut on the ground. Suffice to say my thongs are not thicker than the spine was long Very Happy
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calycium
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PostSubject: Re: Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?   Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:45 am

Yes I can only add to say - painful, when I fell on one of my older plants, the pain lasted for several days. There is definitely something on the spines that is left behind after they are removed from the skin. The deeper they penetrate the more swelling and pain.
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Vicki
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PostSubject: Re: Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?   Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:23 am

Some interesting webbies:

http://dermatology.cdlib.org/DOJvol7num2/unknown/cholla/cholla2.html

http://www.orthogate.org/orcid/poster/example.htm
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calycium
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PostSubject: Re: Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?   Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:11 am

Thanks Vicki,

Interesting links - in the first one figure one they had a photo that looked like my hand did. I feel the pain all over again - but tweezer removal and then application of glue to remove 95% of the spine was interesting.

Second link - a bit icky! (but interesting) a reminder not to kneel down on cacti.
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Lachy
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PostSubject: Re: Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?   Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:24 pm

I recall hearing from a lecturer (some time ago now) about rose thorns having some compound present on the surface that could induce a histamine-type reaction. It would not surprise me if cacti had evolved a similar mechanism.

I've had many a close encounter with cacti spines. Opuntia glochids cause local irritation and some redness - however I think that this could be a reaction to mechanical rather than chemical irritation. For some reason Pilosocereus seem to sting quite a bit. Again, I wonder if it's the long needle-like shape causing the issue or some coating on the spine.

I have on one or two occasions suffered a localised infection as a result of not removing the entire spine after being attacked by my cacti. This would seem to be indicative of there being some sort of bacteria present on some cacti spines - this is hardly surprising, but possibly a contributing factor to the pain of cacti bites... Laughing
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KanJe
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PostSubject: Re: Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?   Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:08 pm

Yeah, I seem to had a real problem with Opuntia types as well. Especially the barbed ones that leave a bit of spine in your hand that stays there for a month and a half. Mad

I agree with the glochids as well. They are not so much as painful but more annoying in having to spend the 3 hours with a pair of tweezers picking out hundreds of fine spines just from accidentally brushing the plant.

Actually I got a really painful one the other day from a long-spine peruvianoid where I think I dropped it onto my hand and the tip a one of the spines snapped off under the skin.
That one hurt for days.
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Lachy
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PostSubject: Re: Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?   Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:46 pm

I've had one or two occasions where I've got stuck and the spine has broken off. I then remove what I *think* is the whole spine... only to find that the whole area becomes inflamed and about a week later, the rest of the spine emerges. *shudders*
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trigonus
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PostSubject: Re: Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?   Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:12 am

In response to the title of this thread, yes I get spiked all the time, at least one a week and usually more. I currently have at least two broken off tips embedded in my fingers and hands. It's just part of cacti collecting I think Laughing

The ones that seem to have the worst reactions for me so far are Cereus peruvianus (I once had a huge arm of this fall on me, it weighed about 15kg and I had a bad reaction to it scratching up my arms, it became infected) also Trichocereus bridgesii seems to irritate me quite a bit, which is a pity since I really like them and have alot of them. There is also this skinny Cleisto that I have that gives me the worst reactions when spiked, swelling, itchiness and general annoyance.

Arrgghhh!!! Glochids, hate them!

Lachy wrote:
I've had one or two occasions where I've got stuck and
the spine has broken off. I then remove what I *think* is the whole
spine... only to find that the whole area becomes inflamed and about a
week later, the rest of the spine emerges. *shudders*

I too am familiar with this. Sometimes I will dig at a spine for ages with a pin and eventually I can squeeze it out clean, usually it turns out to be much longer than I had expected. Ouch!!!

Still, this doesn't deter me and all you guys from growing and collecting them. We must be a strange breed to tolerate this pain for our hobbies Wink

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KanJe
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PostSubject: Re: Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?   Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:15 pm

trigonus wrote:

Still, this doesn't deter me and all you guys from growing and collecting them. We must be a strange breed to tolerate this pain for our hobbies Wink

Here Here...!!
Learn to love the pain.

It's a masochistic hobby... Twisted Evil
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Gracie
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PostSubject: Re: Been stuck/pricked/spined by your cacti before?   Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:52 pm

my worse experience to date was an approx. 12 foot cactus that we were in the process of removing from location tipping off the carrier we had devised and flipping over onto my leg. even with protective clothing the spines penetrated the sides of my shoes and spiked me all the way down the back of my leg below the knee. I carry tweezers in my pocket so they were on hand to pull spines. Pain was intense! in desperation I sprayed aerogard on the skin to get relief. numbed it off for a while but still hurt like heck. luckily I had hubby to do the first aid. Plant rewarded me this season with 15 huge and gorgeous flowers. still not sure on ID of plant. loaded up pics from camera tonight so might add a link for positive Id.
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