Known poison plants or insects in Languedoc?

Having spent a very peaceful day by the river with my family and not having experienced any obvious incident, I was very surprised to wake up the following day with a very nasty acid like burn all down my leg, which is scarlet red and has blistered. I had a similar problem last year after walking through dense garrigues, and did actually witness a couple of tiny chenille fall from a tree onto my leg. They were the famous 'chenille processionaire', known for their toxic hairs, which when in contact with human (or animal) skin cause very nasty blistering/burning. The blistering that time, was the same but on a much smaller scale.

I was under the impression that the chenille processionaire was only a problem in spring, and I didn't see any signs of them by the river this time. Now I'm wondering what other plants or insects could cause such a nasty dermatological reaction, which would go unnoticed at the time of accidental contact, other than poison ivy?

Having looked extensively on wikipedia, it would seem that poison ivy doesn't exist in Europe ? Does anyone know anything about other poisonous plants in Languedoc which cause severe contact dermatitis?

Here is the article about chenilles processionaires:

My goodness! I had no idea that the wild parsnip could do this! Thank you

Hi Pamela,

Many thanks for this information about the law concerning the 'chenille processionaire'. I would indeed be interested in seeing this law.

As for Rhubarb leaves and the fig tree I had no idea there were so many 'irritating' plants, so to speak.

Panais sauvage (wild parsnip) which looks like carrot foliage is intensely photosensitising (redness and blistering) you can brush against it without noticing, there's no problem at all if not exposed to the sun afterwards but panais + sun = horrible blisters which go septic very easily

Hi Louise, when we moved into our house it had been empty for two years prior. We found (and had not previously known about) chenilles processionaires - about 80 nests of them! We removed and burnt them. I did a heap of research at the time and they are poisonous at all stages of their life cycle. The only predators that I know of are the hoopoe and the mole (who eat larvae). There is a law which says a proprietor must remove any nest and caterpillars from their property - they are very dangerous to pets, children and anyone with allergies - we personally know of two dogs (luckily they both still have their respective tongues) and two children who have been affected by chenilles processionaires. If I notice them in our neighbourhood I post the law in the person's letterbox and have so far been successful in having the nests removed. I can post the law here if anyone is interested.

Aside from that, there are plenty of garden plants which are toxic or may cause allergic reactions if you are prone - oleander, nettle, rhubarb leaves, euphorbias, hemlock, most of the spring bulb flowers and bulbs, fig tree sap.... and so on.

Rue would certainly produce the effect that you describe. Gardeners are aware of the damage contact with the foliage and exposure to sunlight can cause. See