Now that summer has started and we all want to play outside, I figured it’s time to play America’s itchiest family game: TOXICO or NOT-SICO!!
Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a non-thorny vine that releases Urushiol oil- a substance most humans are allergic to and if exposed will exhibit itchy blisters. .
.:Fun Facts:. about this hated shrubbery:
>Poison Ivy is beneficial to other animals by providing food for birds and deer!
>Direct contact is not needed to gain a rash. Lawn mowers and forest fires release the Urushiol oil into the air!
>You won’t have a reaction the first time your body comes into contact with Urushiol! It’s the second encounter that will cause your first rash.
So what does Poison Ivy look like? It’s incredibly varied and can be difficult to identify, but there are some tricks: >”Three leaves let it be” is a great rule (but there are so many innocent three leaf plants out there!)
>P.I. usually* has serrated (jagged) edges on the outer leaf edges. They kinda look like stairs. >Leaf colors can vary through the seasons, being bright green in summer and turning dark red in autumn. .
Since P.I. is so tricky, I’ve devised a little quiz for you! All you must do is swipe through and identify each plant as the rash-inducing Toxicodendron radicans, OR a harmless something else. (Note: the pictures get trickier as you go along😏)
Is it TOXICO or NOT-SICO??
1️⃣ Yes, duh.
2️⃣ Yes, and notice how large P.I. can grow!
3️⃣ No, this is Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). Notice the number of leaves.
4️⃣ No, this is Southern Dewberry (Rubus trvialis). Note the thorns.
5️⃣ Yes! P.I. doesn’t always have a pointy central leaf. Look at the bundles closer to the ground, they look more typical.
6️⃣ A. Yes, though not typical.
B. No, this is Boxelder Maple (Acer negundo). Notice the lobed central leaf.
7️⃣ Yes, remember that P.I. is a vine and you can find branches of it overhead!
8️⃣ A&B. No, this is Kudzu (Pueraria montana).
9️⃣ Yes, P.I. will often turn red- sometimes just a single leaf will change color.
🔟 A. No, this is English Ivy.
C. No, this is Boston Ivy.