En Español

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - April 03, 2008

From: Jacksonville, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Campsis radicans or cow itch
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We cleaned my father-in-law's home-place up out in the country week-before-last. My wife, her 2 sisters and a niece have this unusual-looking poison on them. It is big red places and itches all over their bodies. Some say it is "cow itch". What is cow itch and what does it look like?

ANSWER:

One of the common names for Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) is cow itch vine. We found a website on trumpet creeper that mentioned the irritation caused by contact with this vine; however, it states that the irritation should only last for a few minutes. It is a native of North Carolina, and easily escapes cultivation and gets all over everywhere, so you could easily have come in contact with it during your cleanup operation. Unfortunately, we suspect what you actually encountered is Toxicodendron radicans (eastern poison ivy). This plant is also native to North Carolina, and often found in shady, neglected areas. The rash from this for those sensitive to it (and nearly everyone is) is much more persistent, painful and hard to control. We don't have pictures for the two different rashes-a rash is a rash, showing up differently on different types of skin, etc. The members of your family that had the misfortune to come in contact with it should probably see a doctor. There are treatments for the rash, and it can be almost disabling until it goes away. You will note, when you read the webpage for this vine, that it can have many different appearances, and here is a page of images of the plant. We'll add a couple from our own Image Gallery. You can compare the leaves of the trumpet creeper with the leaves of the poison ivy, and see that, even when the trumpet creeper is not in bloom, there shouldn't be any confusion between the two plants. Remember the old saying, "Leaves of three, leave them be."


Campsis radicans

Toxicodendron radicans

Toxicodendron radicans

Toxicodendron radicans

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Vines for fence, safe for horses in California
December 12, 2013 - I live in a fire prone part of Orange County, CA named Silverado and own horses. Am interested in fast growing vines to cover a fenced area which are horse safe. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Tropical looking plants for pool area in California
November 14, 2008 - I am looking for small tropical looking plants, groundcover, and 2-small trees for around my pool. They have to be non-toxic to dogs,cats, and people. They can't attract bees/wasps, or have a root ...
view the full question and answer

Wild plums for jelly from Conroe TX
December 18, 2012 - Do wild plum trees grow in my area? I want to get some next summer to make plum jelly.
view the full question and answer

Information about Rosa acicularis
March 07, 2008 - Hi: At your site under "Benefit" it is mentioned that the seeds, leaves bark and twigs of Rosa acicularis Lindl. can be fatally poisonous to humans and animals. None of my past or present studies h...
view the full question and answer

Do Delphiniums Transfer Toxins to Strawberries?
October 22, 2015 - Is it safe to eat strawberries grown beside delphiniums?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center