I remember being a kid and running along the stream at Swiss Valley. I got back to the car and my legs started getting itchy.

Yeah, it was Poison Ivy. While I'm not a botanist and can't easily recognize different species of plants, I did learn early on an important life lesson; leaves of three, leave them be.

Poison ivy can be pretty common to the midwest. (You might also run into poison sumac... poison oak is not as prevalent in our area.)

According to an FDA website:

Poison ivy usually grows as a vine or small shrub along the ground or climbing on low plants, trees and poles. Each leaf has three glossy leaflets, with smooth or toothed edges. Leaves are reddish in spring, green in summer, and yellow, orange, or red in fall. May have greenish-white flowers and whitish-yellow berries.

If you touch it, you'll know! Usually you'll itch, see a rash and then blisters. The oil in the plant is what causes the itch, so if you do run into it wash the affected area with cool water and soap as soon as possible.

If you let your animals wander outside, it's possible for them to run through a plant, too. While it doesn't usually affect your pet, the oil on their fur could spread to you when you go to pet them. If you do think your animal has run through some poison ivy, put on rubber gloves and wash your pet's fur.

The other night my family walked up by Julien Dubuque's grave and I noticed a nice big patch of it right off the sidewalk... it's out there... be careful!

~Chris Farber


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