Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
Poison ivy is native to Bermuda and Eastern North America. It is often found in parks and nature reserves, along roadsides, on small islands and in other wild places. It can even be found on the edge of marshes like Paget Marsh. It usually grows as a woody vine and can grow along the ground or around other trees. Occasionally poison ivy grows as a small shrub.
The leaves of poison ivy are made up of three smooth edged leaflets held on a reddish stem. Each leaflet can reach 4 inches in length. The veins are prominent in the leaf. Poison ivy produces clusters of small greenish white flowers in spring and summer, which are followed by clusters of small berries.
Poison ivy is famous for causing painful skin irritation and itchy rashes. The irritation develops when your skin comes in contact with Urushiol – an oil produced by the plant. The oil can be spread on your shoes, clothing and tools or by touching anything that has been in contact with the plant (including your dog!). If you suspect that you have been in contact with poison ivy contact your doctor or pharmacist. Be sure to wash your clothes and skin carefully to avoid spreading the oil. A dishwashing detergent designed for cleaning grease can be used.
Poison ivy can be controlled with Roundup herbicide. It should never be burned as the smoke can cause serious lung damage. Learn to identify it and avoid whenever possible as you explore this summer!