Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for January 7th, 2012

Unexpected—and for many people still unwelcome—color

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Toxicodendron radicans; click for greater sharpness.

When I was traipsing around the grounds of Laguna Gloria on the foggy morning of December 9, I found myself surrounded at times by some healthy (for the plants) stands of poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans. This prolific native species spends most of the year blending in with the rest of the greenery, but in the fall its leaflets are inclined to turn colors and become patterned in intriguing ways; you see one such leaflet here. What most people think about when they hear the term “fall color” is maples, oaks, flameleaf sumacs, cedar elms and various other trees, but the often lowly though much-scorned and much-feared poison ivy, like the skin-rending greenbrier, gets to play the game too.

It occurs to me that many of you outside the United States and Canada probably aren’t familiar with this noxious native plant of ours; if that’s the case, you may want to read a Wikipedia article about it. For a clickable map showing the many places in the United States and Canada where Toxicodendron radicans makes people’s skin turn red, itch, and even blister, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 7, 2012 at 5:04 AM

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