Date Posted: Jan 29, 2016
Tread-softly's common name is also a warning to heedless handlers. As its name suggests, one must tread softly around it or else risk being stung by the many stinging hairs that cover its leaves, stems, seeds and even flowers. The hairs contain an irritant that can cause a rash in some people. Despite its stinging hairs and its inclusion in the spurge family, tread-softly is not a true nettle. It does, however, produce the milky sap common to other members of the Euphorbiaceae family.
It’s easy to see how tread-softly gets its common name, and its scientific name is just as telling. The genus Cnidoscolus is derived from the Greek cnid, meaning “nettle” and scolus, meaning “thorn.” The species epithet comes from the Latin stimul, meaning “to goad, prod or urge,” as in a “stimulus.”
Tread-softly is known to flower year-round. It occurs naturally in sandhills, scrub, pine and scrubby flatwoods, and ruderal and disturbed areas. It attracts many butterflies and other pollinators.
Read more about tread-softly on our blog.
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