Is Moon Cactus Poisonous?


Moon cactus are so appealing to the eyes because of their gorgeous variegation and bright colors. As much as we like to have them inside our house, it is essential to know if they are toxic to humans and animals.

Moon cacti are not poisonous to humans and animals. However, their spines, especially those of the rootstock, can puncture the skin, get deep in the muscles, and cause injury. It is important to note that moon cacti spines may have germs on their surface that may cause infection and irritation.

Growing a moon cactus inside your home adds color and positive vibes. Can this helpful little plant be dangerous too? Read on to find out.

Does Moon Cactus Contain Harmful Toxins?

In the United States, plants rank third after medicines and household products in causing poisoning among children. Several plants grown indoors have significant levels of toxins that are harmful to humans and pets. Fortunately, the moon cactus does not belong to plants that are considered poisonous.

Theoretically, moon cactus are two different cacti joined together by grafting. The top-colored portion and the green rootstock are scientifically named Gymnocalycium mihanovichii var. and Hylocereus undatus (commonly used). According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) list of poisonous plants, the two cacti species mentioned above do not contain toxic substances.

Other cacti species that have high toxicity levels are the Trichocereus pachanoi (San Pedro), Trichocereus peruvianus (Peruvian torch), and Lophophora williamsii (Peyote Cactus). These species are known to contain a psychedelic hallucinogen called mescaline that occurs naturally. The intoxicating effect of this substance includes visual hallucinations, anxiety, and stress reactions.

Is Moon Cactus Poisonous?

Moon cacti species are not poisonous to humans nor pets. They do not produce any toxins in dangerous amounts and do not contain any toxins even if ingested.

These species have extremely low toxicity levels. Pets usually like to chew on plants when they find them attractive. Moon cactus can be pleasing to their eyes and might be very inviting to munch. But do not worry because the moon cactus is not toxic to any animals. The only harmful characteristic of a moon cactus is its thorns.

The Danger of Moon Cactus Thorns

Toxicity is not a worry when dealing with cactus spines. More precisely, a moon cactus has two types of thorns:

  1. Head thorns: soft and short in the head
  2. Rootstock (base) thorns: short, solid, and spiky

Head thorns: The thorns around the moon cactus head are fine soft bristles that are not hurtful when touched. But these extremely fine barbs can be dangerous in another way. When these fine bristles break off and contact soft tissues in your body, such as eyes and mouth, they can cause serious harm. It will result in swelling and severe inflammation, especially on eye tissues.

Rootstock thorns: Moon cactus rootstock also has sturdy and sharp spines that can puncture your skin and even your muscles. Their spines are not poisonous, but they can cause serious injury as well. The spines may contain bacteria and fungi on their surfaces, resulting in skin infection and inflammation around the affected area. Cactus spines are dangerous as they may carry soil-borne bacteria and fungal coatings.

Regarding pets, cactus can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested by accident. The spikes of the rootstock can puncture their mouth and tongue if not even their stomach in the worst case and bleeding can happen. The fine barbs can get in their eyes too. In instances where they get pricked, seek professional help right away to assess the situation. Be cautious when growing moon cactus with your pets around. It is best to keep your cactus away from pets and make sure they cannot reach it.

Moon Cactus Poisonous – Infographic

What To Do When Pricked With Moon Cactus Spines

The Moon cactus spine is not as sharp as other cacti spines, but it can still be excruciating when it gets into your skin. The pain is tingling that may last for hours or even days and may turn septic when not removed right away. Worst case scenario is when the spine that got you pricked contains bacteria and fungus that may cause infection. It is vital to remove safely right away any spines that are under your skin. Here’s what I do when I get pricked.

Personal tip

When fine cactus barbs poke my skin, I usually use adhesive tape, stick on the area, and pull it quickly. You can notice that the fine spines come off with the adhesive tape. Unfortunately, if the extremely fine barbs get into your skin, you might need to use sterile tweezers and magnifying glass. It requires a lot of patience because you’ll have to remove the barbs one by one by grasping the end of the spine and pulling upright slowly. Make sure to remove all the pricks right away.

Do not use a blunt knife or any tool to scrape off the spikes, as it will just break the thorns in half and leave the parts on your skin. It will be more difficult to remove and may embed in your skin.

You can tell when there are no more spines left by pressing the portion of your skin where the spines get in. If there is still a tingling pain, then something is left in there. After the spines are entirely gone, thoroughly wash your skin with soap and water, or if the wound is deep, an antiseptic will be best.

If your pets ingested or get pricked with a cactus, bring them immediately to the vet for professional help. Letting the veterinarian do the work rather than doing it yourself is vital to avoid your pet from being distressed.

Takeaways

  1. Moon cactus can not cause intoxication to humans and pets. It does not contain toxic substances.
  2. The spines of moon cactus are not poisonous but can be harmful to kids and pets if it gets in contact with the skin or worse if ingested. Seek immediate medical attention if your kid or pet accidentally eats the moon cactus.
  3. When growing moon cactus at home, make sure that you place them in areas away from your kids and pets.

Sources

Toxicity of Common Houseplants, University of Nevada Lincoln

Nutritional pharmacological and toxicological characteristics of pitaya (Hylocereus undatus): A review of the literature, African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology

“Poisonous Plants,” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

“Night Blooming Cereus,” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

“Hallucinogens and dissociative agents naturally growing in the United States,” John H. Halpern, Pharmacology and Therapeutics

“Mescaline,” Southeastern

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Esther

Esther is the self-proclaimed cactusholic :D of the team. She owns a cacti shop with hundreds of plants that she takes care of. Esther has many years of experience in growing and caring for drought-resistant plants like cacti and succulents.

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