Mala Mujer

When you are out hiking or exploring around outdoors here in southern Arizona or in Mexico, one plant that you should definitely look out for and stay away from is Mala Mujer (Cnidoscolus angustidens).

Mala Mujer (Cnidoscolus angustidens) flowers

Mala Mujer, which translates as bad or evil woman in Spanish, is found growing on rocky slopes up to about 5,000 feet (1524 m) here in southern Arizona. It can be recognized by its dark green, maple-like leaves with small, white dots.

The entire plant is covered in sharp stinging hairs that are capable of causing severe contact dermatitis. Each stinging hair has a white base, which is why the leaves have a dotted appearance.

Stinging hairs on Mala Mujer (Cnidoscolus angustidens)

Mala Mujer is one of the most painful stinging nettle-type plants known, and the extreme pain from the touch of this "bad woman" can last for hours. Mala Mujer rashes can last for days and be followed by weeks or months of red, purple, or brown skin discoloration. This attractive, native plant is definitely best appreciated from a safe distance.