High summer – and summer activities such as camping, gardening, hiking, and more – can all expose us to the dreaded rash from poison ivy. Exposure can come from direct contact with the plant oil – urushiol - or from the plant oil on clothing, shoes, pets’ coats, etc. that have come in contact with the plant. (Other plants offering the same miserable outcome are poison oak and poison sumac.)
Words of warning such as these are taught to individuals and to Scouts and other outdoor groups:
"Leaves of three, let them be!" or "Leaflets three, leave them be!"
|Poison Ivy at Entrance to Meadow Pond Trail |
at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge
We found an excellent tool for recognizing poison ivy and related plants as well as learning prevention and recommended treatment in this quiz on About.Com Pediatrics…not that the malady is limited to children, by any means! Also, the Friends' Nature Nook at Hagerman NWR now has Poison Ivy Soap in stock.
Poison ivy, oak and sumac plants are spread by birds dispersing the seeds. A Texas State Dept. of Insurance publication provides comprehensive information on not only prevention and treatment of the rash but also recommendations for controlling the spread of plants.
One interesting bit of historical trivia is that America’s “first botanist”, John Bartram, reportedly sent poison ivy from colonial America to gardens in England, where its brilliant red fall foliage was much admired.