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Ask Buck

Do Ferns Neutralize Poison Ivy?

My son came back from an outdoor camp and proclaimed that rubbing the liquid from the broken stalk of a fern on a sting from nettles, poison ivy, or poison oak will stop the stinging. Is it true?

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Question:

My son came back from an outdoor camp and proclaimed that rubbing the liquid from the broken stalk of a fern on a sting from nettles, poison ivy, or poison oak will stop the stinging. Is it true?

Submitted by – Jeff L.

Answer:

The best I can answer is this: I have never heard of it, and I could not find any reference to it in my library. There is a plant often growing in the same habitat as poison ivy named Jewelweed (not a fern) that reportedly relieves the itch of poisonous plants when you rub on its juice, but limited studies haven’t shown this to be effective.