Smodingium argutum, the African poison ivy, is a southern African shrub or medium-sized tree in the Anacardiaceae, which has properties comparable to the American poison ivy, as its sap contains heptadecyl catechols that are toxic to the skin.
|African poison ivy|
|A sprig in the Pretoria N.B.G.|
E.Mey. ex Sond. in Harv. & Sonder
It is commonly known as the pain bush.
An immuno-chemical reaction is suspected as in other toxic anacardiaceous species. It is monotypic in the genus Smodingium, and was discovered in Pondoland by J. F. Drège during an 1832 expedition with the zoologist Andrew Smith.
It resembles Rhus species in habit and foliage. It is very variable in size, sometimes a woody shrub barely 1–2 feet high, or otherwise a tree of up to 6m. During summer it produces small, creamy green flowers arranged in large sprays. The Greek generic name, meaning "durated mark", alludes to its hard, flattened seeds, which are fitted with papery wings. The margins of the alternately arranged, trifoliolate leaves are toothed, as suggested by its specific name, argutum, which means "sharp". The foliage assumes attractive autumn colours. When damaged the twigs exude a creamy, poisonous sap, which turns black when the catechols contained in it polymerize to a melanin.
- Findlay, G.H. (31 August 1963). "Dermatitis of 'Poison Ivy' type from an indigenous South African plant - Smodingium argutum". S.A. Tydskrif vir Geneeskunde: 883–888.
- Botha, C.J., Venter, E. "Smodingium argutum". (Paraclinical Sciences - Pharmacology & Toxicology). University of Pretoria. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- Melissa Petruzzelloa. "7 Dangerous Plants You Should Never Touch". ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA.