Weather at Bedford, Hanscom Field, MA - via NOAA's National Weather Service

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

poison ivy

Okay, so I kind of like poison ivy. I don't mean that I like the rash I get when I rub up against the plant, but you've got to admire a plant that is so adaptable and sturdy. Besides, birds apparently like the berries. I've yet to see berries on a p.i. plant, maybe because the birds eat them so quickly.

There are all sorts of horror stories about poison ivy. My uncle who was burning brush and didn't realize that there were p.i. branches in the pile because it was winter and all the leaves were off - he breathed in the smoke and the urushiol can be carried that way - nasty! Or my neighbor who didn't realize that poison ivy could climb, and spent a day pulling vines off a tree at his house - itcho! Or my friend's son, who had a systemic reaction (that means he got a rash all over his whole body) while on a vacation trip - no fun!

And then there are the lucky few who are not allergic to the oil. I remember my grandfather's brother clearing out a ditch full of poison ivy. He was wearing long sleeves and gloves, but he was right in the middle of it all, and had no adverse reaction.

I have a sensitivity to the plant, but not a strong one. As long as I am properly covered and careful, I usually only end up with one small itchy spot, or perhaps two, in the course of a summer. A good thing, because my yard seems to have loads of poison ivy. I spray when it springs up near heavy-traffic areas, but there is more than I can even hope to control. It's just part of living in southern New England.

Here are some photos. Can you pick out the virginia creeper, and semi-lookalike cousin of poison ivy?

Remember, poison ivy has many "disguises" - the leaves may be shiny or dull, smooth or serrated, various shades of green or red, and the plant may be climbing or shrubby or trailing, but it always has three leaflets (a leaflet is a part of a compound leaf).
"Leaflets three, let it be!"

1 comment:

Thanks for being patient - I don't moderate comments every day, but I will get to it!