Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy is one of those plants that I have not paid much attention to until recently. I am one of the 20% of the people who are not allergic to the urushiol produced by Poison Ivy. They say that if you are around it a lot then eventually you will get the rash and I can say that is the case with me. Once I was cleaning out a lot of vines from yard and I did get a small rash but other than that I have been pretty lucky and never bothered to learn much about it. That has all changed now that I am leading hikes for friends who are allergic. I need to make sure I don’t go tromping into it and put my friends in jeopardy. Saturday I took some photos to help myself learn.



This one shows the three leaves that I grew up hearing about. “Leaves of three, let it be” was the saying I learned in Girl Scouts.

I am now most familiar with the vine as it grows up trees because it is easily recognized by its hairy tendrils. The bush and ground cover version are not as familiar to me but I do find it amazing that one plant can be a vine, a bush and a ground cover. Equally amazing is that it is a member of the Anacardiaceae or Cashew family. And I also read that Mangoes are in the same family and that some people get a rash from them as well. Who knew?

It is the urushiol oil that is the culprit. The oil can linger on animal fur, on car seats, clothing, and tools and just about anything. So while I don’t have to worry I need to take care that I don’t spread the oil around for my unsuspecting friends to come in contact with. If it is not washed off within about three minutes after exposure it will be absorbed into the skin and a rash will occur.


In my neck of the woods we also have Virginia Creeper which looks a lot like poison ivy. Here you can see the difference between the two vines. The creeper has bigger and lighter colored tendrils compared to the dense hairy ones of the Poison Ivy.



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14 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Very interesting and informative post as always! Great shots!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sylvia

Gaelyn said...

I'm glad to not have to worry about poison ivy or oak either. Never bothered me when it did others. Yet if I still lived where it grows I'd be on the look out for it for others.

Mara said...

I am so glad we don't have anything like that in Europe. At least... not that I know off! And you must be pretty lucky not to suffer any massive consequenses!

kate said...

Didn't know that about mangoes! My kid gets a diaper rash if she eats them, that would explain why.

If I even go near poison ivy I am completely covered in a rash in hours. My mother can roll in it and be fine. Considering I'm the ecologist and she's a journalist I think that was a cruel trick of genetics. So unfair!!

nonizamboni said...

Very interesting photos and even more interesting to me that I've hung around these plants and not been aware. Ignorance is bliss? :O)
Nicely done!

photowannabe said...

We have poison oak around here that causes problems the same way as your poison ivy. Fortunately I haven't goten the rash either. Hope I don't.

Jay said...

I'm glad I haven't run into this particular plant! I would be sure to erupt into huge itchy hives!

Thanks for the lecture. :)

Woodswalker said...

I used to get Poison Ivy rashes all the time and just terribly as a kid, but haven't had any for almost 50 years now. And I'm in the woods all the time. I must have acquired immunity, but I try not to test it.

By the way, you corrected a mistaken identity I'd recently made in one of my blog posts by your comparison of Poison Ivy to Virginia Creeper roots. Thanks!

Roger Owen Green said...

my co-worker suffered from it for days this summer. I've not had it and consider myself lucky.

Tumblewords: said...

My younger daughter got into a patch of it when she was a little tyke and it wasn't pleasant...Poor kiddo. Your post is most informative and precise. I should have read it years ago. :)

Rose said...

Great topic for P--I could have used it, too! I always thought that I wasn't allergic to poison ivy, but I found out a year ago that wasn't the case. It has infiltrated a small area of a back garden here, and I've been struggling to get rid of it ever since. Now, when I pull weeds there, I'm armed with gloves and long sleeves.

I had no idea it was related to mangoes! But then there are some strange relatives in the plant world:)

Carolyn Ford said...

We often see poison oak our here in California. I do keep my eyes wide open when on trails where it grows! Your ivy is photographed beautifully. It's hard to believe something so pretty could cause such trouble!

Judi said...

I'm rarely able to identify it but one never forgets having come in contact with it! Interesting P.

Marvin said...

We have a lot of poison ivy here in the Ozarks. I've experienced a few small rashes that were probably poison ivy, but was never bothered by it much -- until late last winter. We were cleaning up after an ice storm. I was chainsawing, sometimes holding the saw above my head. In some cases I was sawing through vines as I trimmed off broken limbs. I think I probably filled the inside of my long sleeves with poison ivy dust. Anyway, I had a blisters on my arms from that experience and have a lot more respect for poison ivy now.