Revenge of the Trumpet Creeper

On Saturday, I spent some quality time in the flowerbeds, pulling Maypop passion flower vines that I’d previously sprayed with herbicide. Of course, I missed a few vines with the herbicide, so I had a few live ones to detangle from the perennials. I figured, it’s Fall. The Maypops probably won’t gain much more ground this year, so I’ll just pull up what I didn’t manage to spray and I’ll plan to spray again next Spring.

One of the perennials that the surviving Maypops chose to climb up was another vine: trumpet creeper.

Trumpet Creeper

I’d never heard of this plant until I asked the #lazyweb to help me identify it earlier this year. It has roots that go on forever and just won’t die, and supposedly sports pretty trumpet-shaped flowers that hummingbirds and various pollinators love. Mine hasn’t bloomed in the two summers I’ve lived here, despite being in full sun.

Trumpet creeper has been known to cause a similar skin reaction as poison ivy and its ilk, and sure enough, I’m one of those who reacts to it. Back when I mulched the front fence and tried to dig up a good portion of the vine, I got some of the oils on my arm and developed a bit of a rash. Not bad, just a few bumps, but enough to annoy.

This time, it got me good.

I knew it at the time, too. I was bending down, tugging at the Maypop, trying hard not to touch the trumpet creeper any more than I had to — and the Maypop let go and the trumpet creeper whacked me upside the head. After I was done gardening for the afternoon and I went inside to wash my hands, I didn’t think to wash my face, too. That was my big mistake.

I didn’t even notice a reaction until a good three days after exposure. Yesterday, I started getting a little itch on my cheekbone, and I found a small bump. Once it started oozing like a poison ivy rash, though, I knew the creeper had gotten me. Since it wasn’t so bad last time, I figured I’d sleep on it and let the rash calm itself down overnight.

Except that it didn’t. It got worse.

It’s not too obvious from the front, thankfully.

Face on, I look OK

But it’s pretty bad if you look close.

Trumpet creeper rash

I took some of my husband’s allergy meds this morning, since I remembered that taking antihistamines was the main thing that helped my poison ivy rash stop itching and heal up. It’s working like a charm now — but the damage has been done.

If only I’d thought to thoroughly wash my face after coming in from gardening, I might not be traveling to an offsite training session for work tomorrow with a face that looks like something out of a medical textbook. Not only that, but now all the places that I touched or scratched after the fact are starting to react: my right arm, my right knee, my stomach, places that I know weren’t directly affected, but that got a dose of the plant’s oils later on.

Let this be a lesson to me. Number one: Always wash with soap and cool water whenever you suspect you’ve touched a plant that can cause skin reactions. Number two: That trumpet creeper has got to go.

Edit: The story didn’t end there. Read about my trip to Urgent Care the next day.

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