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United States of America Warnings and Dangers: 141 reviews and 91 photos
There are other poisonous plants in the US, but Poison Ivy is almost ubiquitous. Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac (members of the Rhus family) grow in all portions of the North American continent (except Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii) at elevations below 4,000 feet with a rainfall above 8 inches per year. Contact is a significant cause of worker's compensation claims in the United States.
Poison ivy grows on the edges of woods or indeed just about anywhere. It has three leaves together which may be smooth on the edge or notched. It can grow on the ground or be a climbing vine. In the fall the leaves turn colors and fall off. Poison oak also has 3 leaves.
Every part of the plant including the stems and roots can release the the poisonous, oily irritant urushiol (oo-ròo-she-all). When I moved into our house in Leonardtown, I got poison ivy rash 3 times in the spring before the leaves came out and I knew what was causing it. One fall I planted some bulbs and got into poison ivy roots, and my hand swelled to twice its normal size within about a hour, and I had to have a cortisone injection.
The urushiols chemically "lock on" to skin proteins within 20 minutes after exposure to the plants (including dormant plants or long-dead prunings), contaminated clothes or tools, or even contaminated pets.
Contact with this annoying oil produces a rash in three out of four people. The rash can begin within a few hours after contact, or it can start three to five days later. The rash starts with itchiness and swelling, followed by a reddish inflammation of tiny pimples. Blisters then form and then couple in a chain-like reaction. This fluid then hardens to a yellowish crust. Left untreated, the rash (a typical histamine response) will last three to five weeks. There is no cure for the rash.
So if you are going to be tramping around in the woods - watch out for, and avoid this little plant.
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