The Danger of Bougainvillea Thorns

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Well known for its showy blossoms, Bougainvillea has thorns that are toxic.
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Bougainvillea is a widely grown landscaping plant in warmer regions, due to its showy, cascading blooms. Its long arching branches are thorny, however, and care should be taken to not come in contact with them, as they are toxic.


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Bougainvillea is a sprawling, woody vine that blooms with showy flowers comprised of yellowish-white waxy tubes surrounded by three 1 to 2 inch long colorful bracts. Bougainvillea can reach a height of 30 to 40 feet. It blooms in a range of colors, including purple, scarlet, orange and pink.



Bougainvilleas are thorny plants, often used for security purposes. The thorns are located at the base of each leaf on the plant. They are sharp, and can easily pierce, puncture or prick bare skin.


Toxic Reaction

The thorns of bougainvillea are coated with a substance that can cause contact dermatitis. Symptoms include a rash, pain or tenderness and itching. The wound should be kept clean, and treated with creams containing hydrocortisone and wet dressings to decrease itching and discomfort.