why should you never touch a baseball plant

The Untouchable Baseball Plant: Why You Should Keep Your Hands Off This Rare Succulent

Key Takeaways
– Baseball plants are rare and endangered succulents that resemble balls or sea urchins.
– They are native to South Africa, where they are protected by law from harvesting and poaching.
– They contain toxic latex sap that can cause skin or eye irritation or allergic reactions.
– They are covered in sharp spines that can cause injury or infection.
– They can be grown indoors with bright light, well-draining soil, and infrequent watering.
– They should never be touched or handled without gloves and goggles.

Have you ever seen a plant that looks like a ball or a sea urchin? If you have, chances are you have encountered a baseball plant, also known as Euphorbia obesa. This plant is a fascinating and unique succulent that has a spherical stem with eight or more vertical ridges. The stem is green with brown or purple markings, and it is covered in small, sharp spines. The plant can grow up to 15 cm in diameter and produce small, yellow flowers at the top.

Baseball plants are native to South Africa, where they grow in dry and rocky areas. They are very rare and endangered in their natural habitat, due to over-collecting and habitat loss. They are protected by law from harvesting and poaching, and they are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Many collectors and gardeners are attracted to baseball plants because of their unusual appearance and easy care. They can be grown indoors as houseplants, as long as they are provided with bright, direct light, well-draining soil, and infrequent watering. They can also be propagated by seeds or cuttings, but only with a legal and ethical source.

However, before you rush to get your hands on a baseball plant, you should know that this plant is not as harmless as it looks. In fact, there are several reasons why you should never touch a baseball plant, or at least be very careful when you do. Here are some of them:

The Baseball Plant is Protected by Law in South Africa

why should you never touch a baseball plant

As mentioned earlier, the baseball plant is a rare and endangered species in its native habitat of South Africa. It is illegal to harvest or poach this plant from the wild, and doing so can result in fines or imprisonment. The South African government and various conservation organizations are working to protect and restore the population of this plant, by enforcing the law, monitoring the trade, and establishing nurseries and reserves.

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If you want to grow a baseball plant indoors, you should make sure that you obtain it from a reputable and authorized source, such as a licensed nursery or a certified seller. You should also check the origin and the documentation of the plant, to ensure that it was not taken from the wild or smuggled illegally. You should never buy a baseball plant from a roadside vendor, a flea market, or an online auction, as these are likely to be illegal or unethical sources.

By buying a baseball plant from a legal and ethical source, you are not only respecting the law and the environment, but also supporting the conservation and the sustainability of this plant. You are also ensuring that you get a healthy and quality plant, that will thrive in your home.

To help you find a legal and ethical source of baseball plants, here are some tips:

  • Look for a nursery or a seller that has a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) certificate, which proves that the plant was obtained legally and sustainably.
  • Ask for the provenance and the history of the plant, such as where it was grown, how it was propagated, and how long it has been in cultivation.
  • Avoid buying a plant that has signs of damage, stress, or disease, such as cuts, bruises, wilting, or pests.
  • Compare the price and the quality of the plant with other sources, and avoid buying a plant that is too cheap or too expensive.
Legal and Ethical SourceIllegal and Unethical Source
Has a CITES certificateDoes not have a CITES certificate
Provides provenance and history of the plantDoes not provide provenance and history of the plant
Sells healthy and quality plantsSells damaged, stressed, or diseased plants
Charges a reasonable and fair priceCharges a too cheap or too expensive price

The Baseball Plant Contains Toxic Latex Sap

baseball plant with some latex sap oozing out of a cut or a wound

Another reason why you should never touch a baseball plant is that it contains a toxic latex sap, that can cause skin or eye irritation or allergic reactions. The latex sap is a milky white substance that is produced by the plant as a defense mechanism against herbivores and pathogens. The sap contains various chemicals, such as alkaloids, terpenoids, and diterpenes, that can be harmful to humans and animals.

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The latex sap can be released when the plant is cut, damaged, or stressed. If the sap comes in contact with your skin or mucous membranes, it can cause symptoms such as:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Blisters
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Dermatitis

If the sap gets into your eyes, it can cause symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Tears
  • Blurred vision
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Corneal ulcer
  • Blindness

If you are allergic to the sap, you may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Asthma
  • Anaphylaxis

The severity of the symptoms depends on the amount and the duration of the exposure, as well as your sensitivity and immunity to the sap. Some people may have mild or no reactions, while others may have severe or life-threatening reactions.

To prevent or treat exposure to the sap, here are some tips:

  • Wear gloves and goggles when handling or pruning the plant.
  • Wash your hands and tools thoroughly after touching the plant.
  • Avoid rubbing or touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching the plant.
  • If the sap gets on your skin, wash it off immediately with soap and water.
  • If the sap gets into your eyes, rinse them with plenty of water and seek medical attention.
  • If you have a skin or eye reaction, apply a cold compress and a topical steroid cream.
  • If you have an allergic reaction, take an antihistamine and seek medical attention.

The Baseball Plant is Covered in Sharp Spines

why should you never touch a baseball plant

A third reason why you should never touch a baseball plant is that it is covered in sharp spines, that can cause injury or infection. The spines are modified leaves that grow along the ridges of the stem. They are hard, brittle, and pointed, and they can easily break off and pierce your skin or eyes.

The spines can cause problems such as:

  • Punctures
  • Cuts
  • Scratches
  • Splinters
  • Infections
  • Tetanus

The spines can also carry the latex sap, which can increase the risk of irritation or allergic reactions.

To avoid or treat injuries from the spines, here are some tips:

  • Wear gloves and goggles when handling or pruning the plant.
  • Use tweezers or pliers to remove any spines that get stuck in your skin.
  • Wash the wound with soap and water and apply an antiseptic and a bandage.
  • Seek medical attention if the wound is deep, bleeding, or infected.
  • Get a tetanus shot if you are not up to date with your vaccination.
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How to Grow and Care for a Baseball Plant Indoors

baseball plant in a bright and sunny window, with a well-draining soil mix and a shallow and wide pot

Despite the dangers of touching a baseball plant, you can still enjoy its beauty and uniqueness by growing it indoors as a houseplant. Baseball plants are easy to care for, as they are succulents that can store water in their stems. They can survive in dry and sunny conditions, and they do not need much attention or maintenance.

To grow and care for a baseball plant indoors, here are some tips:

  • Provide bright, direct light for at least six hours a day, such as near a south-facing window.
  • Use a well-draining soil mix, such as cactus or succulent soil, or a mixture of sand, perlite, and peat moss.
  • Use a shallow and wide pot with drainage holes, as the plant has a shallow and spreading root system.
  • Water the plant sparingly and infrequently, only when the soil is completely dry, about once every two or three weeks.
  • Avoid overwatering or underwatering the plant, as this can cause rot, wilt, or shrivel.
  • Fertilize the plant lightly and occasionally, about once every two or three months, with a diluted cactus or succulent fertilizer.
  • Avoid fertilizing the plant during the winter, when it is dormant.
  • Repot the plant when it outgrows its pot, or when the soil becomes compacted or depleted.
  • Prune the plant only to remove dead or damaged parts, or to shape it.
  • Propagate the plant by seeds or cuttings, but only with a legal and ethical source.
LightSoilPotWaterFertilizerRepottingPruningPropagation
Bright, direct, 6+ hours/dayWell-draining, cactus/succulent mixShallow, wide, with drainage holesSparingly, infrequently, when dryLightly, occasionally, diluted, cactus/succulentWhen outgrown, compacted, or depletedOnly to remove dead or damaged partsBy seeds or cuttings, legal and ethical source

Conclusion

baseball plants in different shapes and colors, showing their diversity and beauty

The baseball plant is a stunning and unique succulent that can add a touch of interest and beauty to your home. However, it is also a rare and endangered plant that needs to be protected and respected. It is not a toy or a ball that you can touch or play with. It is a living organism that has its own defense mechanisms, such as toxic latex sap and sharp spines, that can harm you or your pets. It is also a plant that is protected by law in its native habitat, and that requires a legal and ethical source to grow and propagate.

Therefore, if you want to grow a baseball plant indoors, you should follow these tips:

  • Never touch or handle the plant without gloves and goggles.
  • Buy the plant from a reputable and authorized source, with a CITES certificate and provenance.
  • Provide the plant with bright light, well-draining soil, and infrequent watering.
  • Fertilize the plant lightly and occasionally, and avoid fertilizing in winter.
  • Repot the plant when needed, and prune only to remove dead or damaged parts.
  • Propagate the plant by seeds or cuttings, but only with a legal and ethical source.

By following these tips, you can enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of the baseball plant, without harming yourself, the plant, or the environment. You can also help conserve and sustain this plant for future generations. Remember, the baseball plant is untouchable, but it is also unforgettable. Admire it from a safe distance, and let it shine in your home.

About The Author

Samantha
Samantha

I'm Samantha, a plant enthusiast who has been growing plants for years. I believe that plants can make our lives better, both physically and mentally. I started growit.wiki to share my knowledge about how to grow plants. I want to help others enjoy the beauty and benefits of plants.

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