Folklore and Toxicodendron

Poison Ivy and Jewelweed

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac tend to generate a lot of folk tales, meaning stuff that isn't necessarily so. Stuff that hasn't been proven, but really SEEMS to be true or that somebody you trust once told you.

For example, I was walking in the woods one day, splitting my time between throwing a stick for my dog and looking for yet more examples of poison ivy. I ran into a guy and we talked about plants and trees for a bit. He knew a lot more than me about plants and trees. He identified a tree as a certain kind of oak, which was more than I knew.

He then mentioned how nifty it was that poison ivy always grows right along with jewelweed, which cures it; that this was an example of the wholeness of nature.

Problem is, it just isn't true that they always grow together. Jewelweed only grows in pretty damp areas, whereas poison ivy grows almost anywhere. So you might find the two plants together, as in the photo, or not.

The other problem is that there has not been a scientific study that proves that jewelweed is a cure, though it is commonly said to be. Remember, if you really believe something will work, it may really work. That is the placebo effect, and while it doesn't work on broken bones, it works on lots of things.

In future rants and rambles I will take on other folklore about these nasty plants.