Expect to see gonzo poison ivy in the coming years, thicker, leafier and itchier than ever. A study from Duke and Harvard found that as carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere, the noxious vine grows bigger and faster and is stoked with high-octane urushiol, the chemical that causes your skin to redden, bubble up and inch like hell.
Is this another conspiracy theory of the greenie-weenies? Is global warming/climate change even a thing? Like most fair-minded people I don’t really know.
But we’re talking about poison ivy here, and I do know I’m seeing more clumps of the nasty stuff growing up trees and overtaking thickets in some areas.
It’s more important than ever for hunters and all outdoors people to positively ID poison ivy. A mild case with maddening itching is no biggie, but a severe case of poison ivy, of which I have had several, that gets in your eyes and/or mouth will need treatment.
- Remember the rhyme, “Leaves of three, leave it be.” All three leaves have pointed tips with smooth or toothed edges, but not deeply lobed or serrated.
- Leaves generally look smooth, glossy, or shiny on top.
- Leaves are generally a bit droopy.
- Middle leaf is largest.
- The side two leaves grow directly from the stem.
- Color is a tricky indicator for poison ivy. Its leaves may be red in the spring or fall and range from dark green to bright green. They may also have yellow tones, particularly in the fall.
- Berries, if present, are white or light yellow.
One of the worst cases of poison ivy I ever got was on a deer hunt in October. (Dummy, I didn’t pay attention to the thick, hairy vine or yellow leaves on the tree.) As I ran my climber up, the stand’s blade cut chunks out of the vine. Toxic sap got all over my neck and mixed with my sweat. The next day my head swelled up like a pumpkin, my eyes sealed shut and I ended up in the emergency room.
Lesson: Learn to positively ID poison ivy and leave be the shiny, three-leafed plants with the hairy brown vines not only now in spring and summer, but year-round.
PS: Only good thing I know about poison ivy is that deer eat it and seem to like it.