Author: Dr Marius Rademaker, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand,1999.

Common name: Silk Oak, Spider Flower, Kahili Flower (Hawaii). Grevillea Robyn Gordon.
Botanical name: Grevillea spp.
Family: Proteaceae
Origin: Native to Australia, but now cultivated in Northern America.
Description: The genus contains 250 species, ranging from shrubs to forest trees. The main allergenic species belong to the section Eugrevillea. Most have pinnate or pinnatisect leaves and the heads of toothbrush-like flowers range in colour from red to yellow, cream and white. Grevillea Robyn Gordon grows as a shrub 1 m tall and 3 meters wide. It is one of the most popular plants in Australia.
Uses: Ornamental plant. Aboriginal Australians used a secretion from the plant to scarify their bodies.
Allergens: 5-pentadecylresorcinol, tridecylresorcinol
Allergy: Dermatitis has been reported in gardeners, from wearing leis (garlands), and from contact with sawdust. Acute urticaria has been reported with G. juniperina. Grevillea Robyn Gordon has most commonly been reported to cause allergic contact dermatitis/bullous eruption. It seems to cross react with toxicodendron spp (poison ivy, rhus tree)
Cross reactions: Cross-reacts with toxicodendron, anarcardaceae species including poison ivy, mango, rhus tree, etc.
Other information:  
Patch test: 0.1% ethanol extract of flower in petrolatum.


Related Information


  • Apted J. Acute contact urticaria from Grevillea juniperina. Contact Dermatitis. 1988 Feb;18(2):126.
  • Botanical Dermatology Database.
  • Cook DK, Freeman S. Allergic contact dermatitis to plants: an analysis of 68 patients tested at the Skin and Cancer Foundation. Australas J Dermatol. 1997 Aug;38(3):129-31.
  • Hoffman TE, Hausen BM, Adams RM. Allergic contact dermatitis to "silver oak" wooden arm bracelets. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1985 Nov;13(5 Pt 1):778-9.
  • Lothian N. Grevillea species and hybrids causing contact dermatitis. Australas J Dermatol. 1989;30(2):111-3.
  • Lovell CR.1993, Plants and the Skin, Blackwell, Oxford.
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