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What Itch?

Campsis radicans - trumpet creeper vine - in flower
Wikimedia Commons
Campsis radicans - trumpet creeper vine - in flower

On a recent “NatureNotes,” our extraordinarily knowledgeable Rudy Mancke talked about the native vine trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans. He said his grandmother called it “cow itch,” as some people get a localized skin irritation from handling it. I can’t find any reference to why it isn’t called "people itch" – or that it bothers cows at all. Other common names are Devil’s Shoestring and Hellvine – which refer to its rampant growth habit; this vine can overtake a structure or natural area in no time at all and you’ll have a devil of a time getting it under control. Some sources suggest planting it in an area surrounded by paving or such so you can mow around it and also cutting it back to the ground after it blooms. It can cover an ugly concrete building but doesn’t fit into home landscapes easily.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.