A plant that strikes terror in some who have fallen victim to its skin-eruptive oils is Poison Ivy, Rhus radicans. It’s surprising how many people don’t know what poison ivy looks like. We always point it out when berry picking or taking a hike in the woods. People should know not to come into contact with those three leaves.
A poison ivy rash is something to be avoided at all times. Worse than an insect bite, poison ivy rashes can spread when the affected area is scratched. Pustules can break open and release liquids which easily spreads the plant’s oils that blister the skin.
TIP: Do everything you can to not scratch the itchy, reddened blotches for your rash to go away the fastest. Wash contaminated clothing before re-wearing.
What does Poison Ivy look like? A popular saying to remind one what it looks like is, “Leaflets in three, let them be”.
Poison ivy is a vine that often grows along trails and areas at the edges of forests. It may grow from underground roots or from runners along the ground and up into the trees. Look for hairy roots on vines that can be several inches in diameter which have grown up the trunks of large trees.
Two triplicate leaves can be seen in the below image. Each leaf is a palmately compound leaf, meaning that one leaf consists of a long stem plus the three leaflets. Flower clusters arise where the two leaf stalks meet at the main stem.
The flowers of poison ivy may be seen on mature plants as clusters of orange and light green blossoms that occur in the leaf axils. Petals are light green to whitish and the stamens are orange.
Flowers develop into white berries during the summer. Birds and small mammals eat them. People should avoid them as they are poisonous to the touch from all parts of the plant, including the leaves, flowers and berries.