How to recognize Poison Ivy and Poison Oak
Summer hiking or working in the garden tops the charts for activities. However, sometimes just walking along a sidewalk you may brush up against vegetation that most people have allergic reactions to, Poison Ivy and Poison Oak.
Contact with the plant’s oils can be made indirectly too, for instance if your pet has it on their coat or you have brushed against a plant and the oil is on your clothes, or it is on sports equipment or garden tools.
One of the problems with these plants is that it is normally pretty to look at but watch out! Rashes develop pretty quickly. There are many websites which describe ways to treat the rashes. One source is your doctor or pharmacist.
The biggest problem in trying identify poison ivy is how VARIABLE the plant can be, in terms of leaf shape, leaf size, color, etc.
Remember these things:
Poison ivy NEVER HAS thorns of any kind.
Poison ivy ALWAYS HAS leaves (or leaflets) of three, NEVER more.
Poison ivy NEVER has fine, saw-tooth leaf edges, or scalloped edges.
Poison ivy SOMETIMES has notches, so notches really don’t help us.
Poison ivy SOMETIMES is shiny, so shiny really doesn’t help us.
North Carolina has all kinds of Poison Ivy. This map shows the regions where the plants thrive.
Poison Oak, like poison Ivy has three leaves. It grows left then right. It never has thorns and never has edges.
It can grow on the forest floor and be mixed in with other plants such as ferns.
This page link shows photos of Poison Oak. In my garden Poison Oak looks almost like a large bush with shiny leaves and could easily be mistaken for something that should be cultivated.
Resources: poison-ivy.org, wikipedia.org, Trailstompers.com
Credit: Gina MacFarland