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?

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
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
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

Information on Royal Empress tree
May 01, 2008 - Would like to have some information on the royal empress tree; it is a non-native tree.
view the full question and answer

Effects of Hedysarum mackenzii from Pflugerville TX
May 08, 2013 - What are the effects of Hedysarum mackenzii?
view the full question and answer

Bugbane Leaf Blotch
January 24, 2013 - My bugbanes (Cimicifuga/Actaea) seem to suffer from black blotches on the leaves in the summer. This happens even when they have adequate moisture. I also see it on the ones growing wild. Is this a fu...
view the full question and answer

Comment on poisonous sweet pea plant from Kalama WA
October 29, 2011 - No question, comment only. I am aware of the story of Christopher McCandless (Call of the Wild)and the belief that he was poisoned by ingesting part of the sweet pea plant; however I am curious what ...
view the full question and answer

Could hickory leaves be used as seasoning from Waynesboro VA
September 17, 2011 - I have a hickory tree. If I pull a leaf off and rip it then smell, there is a strong wonderful scent of hickory much like when I rip a mint leaf there is a strong smell of mint. So my question is, can...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center