En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 19, 2007

From: Clinton, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Medicinal Plants
Title: Comptonia peregrina tea as topical treatment for poison ivy
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have been told that Sweet Fern stewed into a tea is a great topical treatment for poision ivy. Is this true?


Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern) looks a bit like a fern, but it isn't really a fern. It is a member of the Bayberry Family (Family Myricaceae).

According to the University of Michicgan-Dearborn Native American Ethnobotany database an infusion of the leaves of Comptonia peregrina has been used by several native American tribes (e.g., Delawares, Algonquians, Mohegans) to treat poison ivy. Sweet fern has also had other medicinal applications—headaches, fever, round worms, blood purifier, inflamation and more.

Comptonia peregrina



More Medicinal Plants Questions

Medicinal uses of Orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
August 28, 2005 - What is the best way to extract the juice from the jewelweed plant? And, what can you do with it after that? I know it is considered a remedy for poison ivy and various other skin irritations. So then...
view the full question and answer

Edible Plants of Florida
April 06, 2015 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants My name is Gabriel Bedoya; Im anthropologist, with large experience in research of traditional culinary, symbolic systems and native kitchens. Due to my experience in those s...
view the full question and answer

Skin care uses of sunflower seed oil
September 14, 2006 - Just wondering what, if any, were the traditional uses of sunflower in skincare? I thought I read somewhere that the seeds were crushed up into an oil and used on the skin for sun protection? Is the...
view the full question and answer

Different colors of Argemone spp. from McAllen TX
March 16, 2014 - I took pictures of at least 5 colors of pricklepoppy today. Is this common to have so many colors in one area? How do I harvest the seedpods and when is the best time to do so?
view the full question and answer

Edible and Medicinal Plant Resources for West Texas
March 02, 2013 - I am a teacher of gifted and talented students in Paint Rock, Texas. We were looking for a reliable book or website for edible and medicinal plants in West Texas.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center