Poisonous Leaves

Poison Ivy_Columbus-OH_LAH_3634I was happily photographing wildflowers along the edge of a park in Ohio when our friend, a local, warned me, “Don’t touch that!” I looked down. That plant looked familiar—a sprawling, low-growing shrub with reddish stems and shiny green leaves, each comprised of three leaflets. Wasn’t that…?

Yes, and thankfully I hadn’t actually touched any of it. It’s rather important that those of us who enjoy hiking be able to recognize poison ivy and other plants in the genus Toxicodendron. Toxicodendron means “poisonous leaf”—pretty appropriate for plants whose leaves contain urushiol, an oily chemical that frequently triggers an itchy allergic rash, or worse. Continue reading