Last week I pruned a Pencil (or as I now know) Fire-stick Tree Euphorbia tirucalli.

I have a visor attachment on my helmet and as it is a sappy tree, and I was also wearing glasses, sunglasses unfortunately, not the correct safety glassed seen on my colleague in the photo (the ‘roof’ of these spectacles cause them to mist up when exerting yourself as you do when climbing). As you can guess from the photo, some-how, despite my knowledge that the sap was nasty and my precautions, a tiny amount of the milky sap must have flown off the saw, or dripped down as I looked up to my anchor point (it falls almost as heavy rain at first) into my (blue) eye.

It was very painful. Unfortunately I had this in my eye for 23 hours, as I was unable to effectively irrigate with my eye bath on site, and my G.P. only treated it with local anesthetic. On my second visit, the next morning to another doctor, I was sent immediately to hospital and the eye was irrigated with 8 litres of saline solution via a drip and cannulla (and thankfully I was loaded up with pain-killers). On observation there was a lesion on the cornea 6.5mm x 4mm, which affected my vision (this was not the case on my first visit to the Doctor at 3 hours after the incident). (It was also noted that the local anesthetic’Tetracaine’, was not a good treatment as it softens the surface of the eye, facilitating a ‘burn’ irritant.)

Hopefully my eye will make a full recovery, it is still a bit blurred as I write but much better than it was.

I looked into this biological alkali, treated as chemical burn, and far more virulent than any other latex sap I have had in my eye (pruning huge figs you get lots of it) and wonder, it would take a considerable process and energy to produce such a chemical, can it be harvested commercially?

I would gladly drive the harvester!