P1010788-001Toxicodendron radicans (L) Kuntze

Vine; perennial

Native: L 48, Canada

Blooming:  February, March, white

Location: N 30 00.169’W084 33.522′ (1.59RL)

Poison ivy can be found throughout the whole creek.   Blooms are noticeable in late February and early March along with young leaf shoots.  Insects, particularly honey bees, pollinate the flowers.  Birds and mammals which eat the seeds disperse these seeds as does water.  It also spreads by stems that root and also by below ground stems which send up shoots.

Urushiol is a pale yellow oil found in all plant parts which cause allergic reactions, in some people,  life threatening.  According to  USDA forester J.K. Francis, 10-15% of the US population do not respond adversely to the plant (immune), 25-35% react to only high doses, and 50% have a consistent reaction.  The best line of defense is to avoid it.  If  in contact, wash immediately with soap and water or if not available mud and water or with an alkaline material such as baking soda or wood ash and water.   Traditional medicine treated poison ivy reaction with the mashed juice of the jewel weed (Impatiens spp.).   Jewel weed is not found in Womack Creek.

Some native American tribes used the eastern poison ivy  as a rejuvenator, as an emetic, and rubbed whole or broken leaves over non-healing sores.  The Navajos even used a compound in the plant to make poisoned arrows.

It is an important food source for deer and the fruit for game and song birds.  Rabbits and rodents eat the leaves and fruit.  Extracts from the leaves have and still are used to treat herpetic eruptions, palsy and rheumatism and in small dosage used as a sedative.