Poison warning for popular Aussie tree

 

They might be one of our most recognisable and iconic trees - but Aussie gardeners have been warned to be extra careful around one species of grevillea in particular.

The silky oak - or Grevillea robusta - is blooming along Australia's east coast as spring comes to a close, and is the largest and tallest of the tree's species, reaching up to 30 metres.

Anyone who comes across one of the trees on their morning stroll, should, however, keep a safe distance: they also drip hydrogen cyanide.

The silky oak is a striking Australian tree that also oozes cyanide.
The silky oak is a striking Australian tree that also oozes cyanide.

All grevilleas "literally drip nectar, much to the delight of native birds and bees", the University of Melbourne's Dr Gregory Moore wrote in a piece for The Conversation, with Indigenous Australians once enjoying "the sweet nectar straight from the plant or mixed with water - the original lolly water".

It's not all "lolly water", though - the nectar in a silky oak could make you ill.

"Like other grevilleas the silky oak also contains tridecyl resorcinol, which causes an allergic reaction leading to contact dermatitis. The chemical is similar to toxicodendron in poison ivy," Dr Moore said.

Anyone working with silky oaks is advised to wear gloves, a face mask, protective eyewear and long sleeves.
Anyone working with silky oaks is advised to wear gloves, a face mask, protective eyewear and long sleeves.

He advised anyone working with silky oaks "to wear gloves, a face mask, protective eye wear (or face shield) and long sleeved clothing".

"Washing hands and showering at the end of the day is also recommended," Dr Moore added.

Originally published as Poison warning for popular Aussie tree



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