Poison ivy is a species of plant in which the leaves, stems and roots contain an oil with a sticky allergenic substance called urushiol that can cause a reaction when it comes in contact with human skin. This substance sticks easily to anything that comes in contact with it including skin, clothing, and pets and can cause an itchy rash upon contact. Not everyone is allergic to poison ivy, while some are more allergic then others.
While poison ivy is often associated with summer it actually grows as long as the weather is nice. Poison ivy can grow in just about any environment, although it is most commonly found on edges of forest, roads, streams and lakes and even some lawns. Poison ivy can also grow in a variety of ways including, along the ground (in which new roots are created as it goes), as a vine (up a tree or fence post), and as a bush.
Poison ivy creates very tough and hardy roots, once it begins to grow it can become very difficult to remove. Here is a great article at landscape.com about removing poison ivy.
Like its western counterpart, both the size and shape of poison ivy varies, but the climbing vine variety is most common. Poison ivy also has three leaves on each leaflet but it doesn’t have serrate (notched) leaves. The leaves may have a waxy appearance, a hairy underside, and seasonal change in color.
Identifying Poison Ivy
Poison ivy is identified by 3 leafs on each leaflet. Two common phrases to help remember the leaves of three rule are “Leaves of three? Let them be!” or “”One, two, three? Don’t touch me.” The leaflets are broad and the two side leaves are smaller then the larger end leaf. The middle leaf almost always has a small stem, while the side leaves grow directly from the vine or plant. The leaves tend to be a bright dark green with a waxy top appearance. The bottoms of the leaves are lighter and fuzzier. In spring the leaves are a brighter green and in the fall the leaves turn red.