Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the March 24, 2007 Newsletter issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

A semi-woody shrub or maybe small tree is flowering now with such attractive clusters of white flowers atop long, stiff stems, or peduncles, that when you see them you just want to take a peduncle by your fingers and bend the flowers near so you can sniff. This would be a mistake, for the species is Mala Mujer, CNIDOSCOLUS sp. The name Mala Mujer translates to "Bad Woman" -- bad, because the long, slender, translucent hairs all over the plant's body sting like the dickens. Some English names for this plant include Spurge Nettle, Tread-softly and Devil Nettle. You can see a Mala Mujer and her stinging hairs near my casita below:

Mala Mujer, CNIDOSCOLUS sp

You may think you've seen that plant featured here before, and you'd almost be right. In the February 4th, 2006 Newsletter, writing from the Yucatan, I introduced you to Chaya, sometimes called Tree Spinach because its leaves can be cooked like collards or spinach, they taste good, and are very nutritious. Chaya is not only in the same family as Mala Mujer, the Euphorbia Family, but also the same genus. In fact, I can't see much difference between the two, except that Mala Mujer has many more stinging hairs than does Chaya. You can see my Chaya story at http://www.backyardnature.net/yucatan/chaya.htm.