Updated: May 12
Poison ivy isn't actually an ivy but a common native plant related to sumac, cashew and mango trees. Like most plants in Autumn, poison ivy also changes colours from the greens to the yellows and reds common to the season.
Poison ivy can still be identified by it's 3 leaflets but with the additional appearance of waxy green or yell coloured berries. Although the plant itself is no longer green its sap still contains urushiol oil in Autumn and Winter months. Urushiol causes the allergic skin reaction that poison ivy is famously known for often times resulting in the itchy, blistering rash.
This type of allergic reaction to poison ivy is almost exclusive to humans meaning animals such as livestock and pets are unaffected by poison ivy. Some wildlife species actually eat poison ivy such as deer who eat the leaves, or birds who eat the berries and help to spread the plant to other areas.
Urushiol (the active allergen in poison ivy) can still be transferred from animals to humans. Being in direct contact with poison ivy isn't even necessary to develop a rash sometimes! How to spot poison ivy: 1) Poison ivy grows in 3 leaf groupings;
2) Poison ivy leaves will sometimes have a "sub leaflet" that looks like a thumb or an oven mitt;
3) Poison ivy leaves will have smoother edges (not very jagged or rough);
4) Poison ivy berries are green in the summer and white or waxy (colour) in the fall;
5) Poison ivy leaves are green in the summer and change to a reddish - orange colour in the fall;
6) Poison ivy will NOT have any thorns
7) Poison ivy leaves (the top, visible part) can have a shiny (or "waxy") appearance in the summer season.
Pictures of Poison Ivy Leaves (In The Fall Season) and Poison Ivy Berries
Poison ivy has many faces but the general rule is this: "Leaflets in three let it be"
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