Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

Striking autumn tree can make you sick

Striking autumn tree can make you sick

Toxic Rhus trees are more easily identifiable in autumn, when their leaves turn a striking crimson colour.

For immediate release: Friday 6 May 2005 Bay of Plenty residents are reminded to stay well away from a pretty but toxic ornamental tree that used to be a favourite with gardeners because of its stunning autumn foliage.

Environment Bay of Plenty receives several calls a year from people who have been poisoned by contact with the Rhus tree, which is still fairly common in the warmer parts of the region.

Pest plant officer Murray Severinsen says the tree’s sap can cause an allergic reaction and severe dermatitis, leading to hospitalisation in severe cases. Symptoms usually appear within one to seven days and last up to two weeks or longer. “Almost everyone is potentially at risk,” he says.

Rhus (Toxicodendron succedaneum) is a native of Japan, China and the Himalayan region. It grows from five to eight metres high and its leaves turn scarlet and crimson in autumn. For decades, it was cultivated as an ornamental tree and planted quite extensively by district councils in parks and reserves. While many trees have since been removed, both in gardens and in public places, the danger still exists for the unwary, Mr Severinsen says.

All parts of the Rhus tree are toxic and, since young leaves are easily bruised, there are more cases of Rhus-caused dermatitis in the spring than at any other time of year. “Unfortunately, there may be no significant symptoms after first contact, as individuals are not born allergic to Rhus. Sensitivity develops after the first contact and with each subsequent contact the reaction worsens.”

While most cases of poisoning are a result of direct contact, the resinous sap is also potentially dangerous if it gets onto shoes, clothing and garden tools. Mr Severinsen advises thorough cleaning of all contaminated items, as the resin remains active for long periods. But don’t burn the plant material, he warns, as the smoke carries particles of toxic oil. Instead, dispose of greenwaste by composting or sending it to the local refuse centre.

Rhus leaves, which are bright green above and greyish below during the summer months, are divided into four to seven opposite pairs of broadly elliptical leaflets and one terminal leaflet, each 40 to 100mm long and 20 to 30 mm wide.

Creamy white flowers are produced in spring and early summer. The fruit that develops from these hang in groups and, when ripe, are a papery pale brown berry and five to seven millimetres in diameter. They contain a single seed. The tree reproduces by seed, or suckers new stems from the roots. If you wish to control Rhus trees, contact a pest plant officer at Environment Bay of Plenty for advice first. Call 0800 ENV BOP (368 267).

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Werewolf: What Does Winston Peters Want His Legacy To Be?

A lot of people in New Zealand seem to resent Winston Peters and the power that he appears to have. “Appears” being the operative word. In reality, Peters will have power only up to the point that he uses it.

By next week, he’ll have become just another junior player in an MMP governing arrangement, battling to hold onto the gains he was promised. More>>

 

Rising Toll: Road Safety Needs To Be A Higher Priority

Official advice released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that the previous National Government dismissed an option to make road safety its most important transport priority after being told the road toll was rising. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>

ALSO:

Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>

ALSO:

Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>

ALSO:

Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election