Texas Bullnettle, Mala Mujer, Tread-softly, Spurge Nettle

Cnidoscolus texanus (Muell. Arg.) Small

Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)


Texas Bullnettle is a spiny, deep-rooted, herbaceous perennial in the Spurge family. It usually grows to 1 to 3 feet or 0.31 to 0.91 m tall. The plant may have one to several spiny stems from a single root system. If a stem is broken, a milky white sap appears. The leaves of Bullnettle are dark green and located alternately along the stems. Each leaf is typically 5-lobed, crinkled in appearance, and covered with stiff, stinging hairs. The flowers, which appear from April through September, consist of five to seven white, showy, petal-like sepals that are united below. There are ten or more stamens and a 3-lobed pistil. The seeds are compartmentalized in a three- to four-celled fruit with a tough outer shell which is also covered with stinging hairs. The forage value of Bullnettle is poor for livestock and wildlife, but seeds may be eaten by various bird species.


Bullnettle is a very common plant found in all soil types across Texas. It is most common on sandy soils and disturbed areas and thrives in hot weather. It is a very aggressive competitor in improved pastures.