Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Climbing with aerial rootlets

with 16 comments

Poison Ivy Vine on Tree 6051

A comment and response in the previous post mentioned that poison ivy can grow as a vine. To make that clearer, here’s a picture from January 19, 2012, of two poison ivy vines that had climbed a tree in a wooded part of Great Hills Park. The aerial (as opposed to underground) rootlets that poison ivy uses to attach itself to a tree can be a warning sign to people who might otherwise innocently touch or lean against a tree like this one. The second word in the scientific name Toxicodendron radicans means ‘rooting,’ and now you see why that word was chosen.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 17, 2012 at 12:53 PM

16 Responses

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  1. I recognized it immediately! As a young child I spent many summers at the beach immersed in salt water soothing my poison ivy coated body.

    Bonnie Michelle

    December 17, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    • I’m sorry your recognition comes with the memory of the price you paid as a child. From the plural “many summers,” it sounds like the childhood you didn’t follow the adage “once ‘bitten,’ twice shy.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      • No, no I didn’t. When I was 13 I spent a summer at a aunt’s home. My first kiss was accompanied by a severe case of poison ivy. We were sitting under a tree after dark and I pulled a vine from the tree and began tearing it apart, I guess I was nervous in anticipation of what was about to occur. The vine was poison ivy, is there a lesson in this story?

        Bonnie Michelle

        December 17, 2012 at 5:53 PM

        • Talk about “leaving a bad taste in your mouth.” I hesitate to say what the moral of the story is.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 17, 2012 at 7:24 PM

  2. My only knowledge of poison ivy dates from the Alan Sherman song about Camp Granada. In the picture it looks just like our ordinary ivy at the stage when it is growing up the tree. The similarity makes it more problematic. Thankfully we don’t have it in Europe.


    December 17, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    • I remember that song. As for the plant, I know it’s sometimes been cultivated and studied in Europe, but online sources differ about whether any has established itself in the wild there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2012 at 5:29 PM

  3. Well it’s a good thing we don’t have it here.. it seems terrible!
    I learned something tonight thanks Steve


    December 17, 2012 at 6:03 PM

  4. I have seen it. I just didn’t know what it was. In my on-going game of “this looks like that”, when I see that vine climbing, I can’t help but think of those ghastly millipedes that inhabit the same territory. I’ve yet to see one of those I’d call “cute”.


    December 19, 2012 at 7:45 AM

    • In this state it looks like just another vine, which is why there’s all the more risk of inadvertently touching it.

      I didn’t make the association with millipedes that you did (I’ve rarely seen any), but as has happened various times in your “this looks like that” game, I can see it now. Ghastly or not, I’d welcome a chance to photograph a millipede.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2012 at 7:51 AM

  5. I itch just looking at this! I’ve only ever seen the small three-leaved plant and never the berries as shown in a previous photo.

    Joan Leacott

    December 19, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    • I’m afraid this form of poison ivy may be the cause of a lot of itching that people can’t later account for. Other people also share your surprise at not knowing what poison ivy fruit looks like, or even that it exists.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2012 at 8:18 PM

  6. Oh my goodness. I didn’t know.


    December 20, 2013 at 6:03 AM

    • Insidious, isn’t it? In at least this one way the world is more dangerous than you thought.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2013 at 6:16 AM

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