Yesterday I was out in the woods and had a runny nose. When I wanted to blow my nose I looked for maple leaves, because I knew what they were. Not sure if the list of bad choices is small enough for single answer, but if it is.

What kind of leaf should I NOT use for tissue or toilet paper?

  • 3
    Any whose name includes the word "poison"... :) Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 18:42
  • 1
    Not quite what you're looking for, but outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/7406/…
    – That Idiot
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 18:43
  • 1
    If you live in New Zealand, Ongaonga (Urtica ferox) is a plant you try to avoid. "unusually large stinging spines that can result in a painful sting that lasts several days" and "The toxin from 5 spines are enough to kill a guinea pig". I have had several encounters with this plant, very fortunately never in that region of the body....
    – user5330
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 19:42
  • 2
    Leaves of three, let it be...
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 22:22
  • 3
    I disagree about this question being a duplicate of the related it asks what are the best choices, this question asks what should you never (or not) use. While there are some great optimal answers on the related question, should those not be available (highly likely) it would be worth while to know what the worst choices are. There are going to be a bunch of mediocre, a few really good, and a few really bad choices. We know from the related question what the really good choices are what are the really bad choices? Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 10:19

2 Answers 2


I watched a program about this the other day. My vote for by far the worst is the Australian

Gympie Gympie plant

One of the world’s most venomous plants, the Gympie-Gympie stinging tree can cause months of excruciating pain.... Even protective particle masks and welding gloves could not spare her several subsequent stings – one requiring hospitalisation – but that was nothing compared with the severe allergy she developed

Writing to Marina in 1994, Australian ex-serviceman Cyril Bromley described falling into a stinging tree during mili­tary training on the tableland in World War II. Strapped to a hospital bed for three weeks and administered all manner of unsuccessful treatments, he was sent “as mad as a cut snake” by the pain. Cyril also told of an officer shooting himself after using a stinging-tree leaf for “toilet purposes”.


describes the sting as "Initially like being attacked by wasps, then you get whitening and swelling at the site, and then if it's really bad you get sweating - liquid just drips out of your skin."


enter image description here

all in all, one to avoid....


Urtica dioica (Stinging Nettle) while it grows over much of the world, It grows in abundance in the Pacific Northwest, especially in places where annual rainfall is high. Found in large patches where much of the vegetation is evergreen and resembling a mint plant. A couple of hand fulls may easily be harvested and may appear to be the best choice in the area.

The leaves and stems are very hairy with nonstinging hairs, and in most subspecies, also bear many stinging hairs (trichomes), whose tips come off when touched, transforming the hair into a needle that can inject several chemicals: acetylcholine, histamine, 5-HT (serotonin), moroidin, leukotrienes, and possibly formic acid. This mixture of chemical compounds causes a painful sting or paresthesia from which the species derives one of its common names, stinging nettle, as well as the colloquial names burn nettle, burn weed, and burn hazel.


While not as devastating as some other plants it will be unpleasant for several hours

Their leaves and stems are covered with long, fine to bristly hairs that can irritate and blister skin when handled. When human skin comes into contact with a leaf or stem, it often rapidly develops reddish patches accompanied by itching and burning. Frequently, a prolonged tingling sensation may persist on the affected skin for more than 12 hours, even after visible symptoms have faded.


enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.