Guateflora: Chichicaste Hedge

Guateflora: Chichicaste Hedge

Poison Ivy is without a doubt the most famous ivy in the family; especially after Drew Barrymore gave it human traits. I am not sure if we have poison ivy in Guatemala since I am not familiar with the plant. But, we have our own poisonous plant: Chichicaste. The scientific name is Chichicaste grandis and it belongs to the Loasaceae family, but here we just call it chichicaste. The chichicaste plant is used often in hedgerows and if you have followed this blog for a while, you will know that this is not the first time the chichicaste has entered the viewfinder. I know of two kinds of chichicaste, the regular kind and chichicaste de caballo (horse’s chichicaste), which has a leaf about three times the size of normal chichicaste.

The chichicaste leaves have tiny hairs that when touch they create an intolerable painfully ardent itching, a sort of burning rash. For this reason chichicaste is often used in the hedgerow (seto vivo in Spanish); like a live and aggressive fence. I even wrote a tiny short story in Spanish inspired by the sting of the plant; I titled it Chichicaste and you can read it by following the link.

Enjoy your weekend and please, by all means, stay away from the chichicaste!

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  • http://quick-snap.blogspot.com Mike

    So lush. A beautiful green.

  • Manolo

    As usual you have succeed in evoke memories from one of my previous lives… Now I am back at one of the many Good Friday’s I went to see the “exit” of Our Lord of San Felipe de Jesús (my father was somewhat and mysteriously devoted to such Catholic “Avatar” of Christ), we missed the exit of the procession so we are walking around the estates between San Felipe de Jesús and La Antigua trying to catch it up. I have my hands on the shoulders of my abuelita (I must have been a wee one ’cause she is not that tall) and suddenly I feel fire on my fingers… we have just passed by some Chichicaste on a fence… next thing I know my abuelita’s ear is red and my fingers are still burning. True story, so I agree with you… stay away from Chichicaste.

    Your short story reminded me of some poem written by a woman whose lover has touched her hands and now roses are growing out of them… of course that poem and your story are opposites at the vertex.

  • Jerry B

    Sounds like what is called “stinging nettles” in the US and England. Not pleasant, but the pain is typically pretty short-lived. Real poison ivy is nasty stuff if you happen to be sensitive to it, and it sticks around for a while. I seem to get into some every spring, and it the rash and blisters stick around for a couple of weeks. Absolutely miserable.

  • http://LIFEANDTIMES patsy poor

    we have poison Ivy and Poison Oak. the poison oak is what i get. it is a low growing shrub that grows along creeks and road way. I don’t have to touch it and a case last 3 or 4 days. you feel like you are on fire. it make water blisters and spreads. i have it caught going down the road in a car on hot summer days and also from washing cloths.
    the horse Chichicaste looks sort of like our poison oak.

  • http://www.afdailyphoto.blogspot.com Annie

    This is so beautiful, I love the pretty green.

  • http://innerdiablogblogspot.com Guy

    There’s one of these right outside the Naranja Pelada, so when you get dropped off there and get out the passengers’ side…

  • Beth Hentges

    In the US, one can touch stinging nettles without getting stung by the little hairs if one purposefully grabs a leaf by pinching it together between one’s thumb and pointer finger. In this way, the little hairs get bent and don’t penetrate the skin. However, if one brushes up against it, beware.

    Beth in MN

    Who is wondering if anyone sells postcards of the city where I live. . .

  • http://antiguadailyphoto.com Rudy

    Mike, lush is the best word to describe all the greenery on the roads of Guatemala.

    Manolo, I actually wanted to include the anecdote of playing a chamusca and falling down over chichicaste, but I thought that was too much.

    Jerry B, well, first time I hear about stinging nettles so I can not comment. But your description is pretty close to what chichicaste does.

    Patsy, see all the things one can learn through this interactions. First stinging nettles and now poison oak. Thanks for sharing.

    Annie, green is nice, but stay away if you don’t want to be sorry.

    Guy, okay I got it… next time you make your way down here, we will go to El Pelicano Dorado. ;-)

    Beth, I am sure that people touch chichicaste too if they know how to handle it. I am not sure if I already got your post card, what city did you send it from and what was on the cover of the post card?

  • Jerry T

    I sent Huntsville, Tx. Did they arrive? Take care, Jerry

  • Lindsey

    Those hurt! I’ve walked by those plants not paying attention and you feel like you were bit by something and then you look down and see the painful chichicaste and the red blachy rash left behind on your leg.

  • margie

    I just had a massage and the therapist used it on my arthritic elbow. Hurts at first, but feels great after wards. Reminds me of the beneficial sting of bees. Bee stings are recommended for arthritis and MS. Any idea what this plant is called in Eng? Wish it wasn’t illegal to transport plants to US from here.

  • daniel

    I helped a family build a house in la empanada , guatemala. the second day using a trowell my arm swelled up and hurt badly. A local showed me the plant. After 15 min. the pain was gone. Of course the rash was a bit unsightly. But well worth it.

  • haroun

    So it’s just like giant nettles. Do you whether it can be used to cook a soup ?

    • http://antiguadailyphoto.com Rudy

      Honestly, I don’t know, Haroun, but I doubt it.