UKTC Archive

Rhus verniciflua (varnish tree) warning

Subject: Rhus verniciflua (varnish tree) warning
From: TreeSpecialists
Date: Dec 22 2006 20:07:31
I felled an unfamiliar tree last week, after some debate I had guessed it  
was a Rhus, but some variety, not typhina. No suckers, and looked like it 
grow too tall to be typhina. 
Not being familiar with the varnish tree I only warned the lads that the  sap 
was "horrible gungey stuff"  but J got some on his forearm when  carrying 
cordwood to the truck and ended up in casualty two days later with  severe 
blistering chemical burns. The arm is healing slowly now.  I would  never 
believed tree sap could cause such a bad burn if I had not seen it  with my 
eyes. Even the nurses and doctors had never seen anything like it  before, 
called all their colleagues over to see for themselves.
So watch out: Rhus verniciflua, the varnish tree, is nasty stuff, similar  to 
giant hogweed by all accounts.
Andrew McManus
P.S. are there any other nasties out there ?
P.P.S. I missed this warning in 2002 but picked it out of the archives  below.
Re: Other names?
"Edmund Hopkins"  <>
Wed, 31 Jul 2002 10:04:52  +0100
Baker, Rupert <> wrote:

Varnish tree is Rhus typhinus & is seriuosly dodgy - contact with wood

sawdust sap etc causes serious blistering & sensitisation

Morning Rupert, I thought that was Rhus verniciflua, rather than the

ubiquitous R typhina, causing acute dermatitis and hospitalisation, though

typhina is also to be treated with caution. Was'nt there a piece in the AA

journal some years ago? 

Edmund Hopkins

Arboricultural Officer

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