If there is one plant that you should learn to identify, it is poison ivy. This woody vine grows in woods all around Tennessee. Touching it can leave you with a painful and terribly uncomfortable reaction.
Poison ivy is green and the leaves grow in clusters of three. There are no thorns. Its berries are a grey-white color, and if the vine is climbing you will notice root “hairs” on the vine. The following mnemonic might help: “Leaves of three let it be; berries white, danger in sight.”
An estimated 15–35 percent of people are not allergic to poison ivy. But after repeated exposure this protection is worn down. People who are allergic will experience more and more severe reactions with each episode of exposure.
Poison ivy is easily spread over your body by your hands, or from person to person through skin-to-skin contact. Never touch your eyes or face if you think you may have touched poison ivy, and always wash yourself with hot soapy water if you think you may have come into contact with the vine.
Treat poison ivy rashes with over-the-counter itch creams. In severe cases, you may need to go to the doctor.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition