What Does Poison Ivy Look Like in Spring?

Posted by on Apr 29, 2016 in leaves, plant parts, spring, Unmowed Blog | 0 comments

What does poison ivy look like in spring? A little like a traffic light—red and shiny. poison ivy red in springPoison ivy’s first leaflets are a glowing garnet red, which slowly fades to green as the spring progresses. The tiny leaflets are shiny since they have a waxy coating, called a cuticle, which protects the tender young leaf. The shininess also fades as the leaf ages. By summer it will be just one more green plant blending in with all the others, lurking at ankle-height.

Poison ivy is an infuriatingly difficult plant to identify. Like snowflakes, no two poison ivy leaves are exactly alike. Sometimes the leaves are the size of a dinner plate, sometimes smaller than a dime. And poison ivy is a plant that can adapt to an incredible range of habitats and conditions, from desert to forest to backyard. That means that a poison ivy plant in Texas may look very different from a poison ivy plant in Connecticut.

spring poison ivyColor varies, too: shiny maroon in early spring, pinkish-green in late spring, inconspicuous green in summer, and a rainbow of golds and purples in autumn.

Itching to know more? Check out my books:

In Praise of Poison Ivy: The Secret Virtues, Astonishing History, and Dangerous Lore of the World’s Most Hated Plant. Identification, tips for healing the itch, and why birds love PI–everything (and more) that you ever wanted to know about poison ivy.

Leaflets Three, Let It Be! A picture book for pre-K to Grade 3, to help the youngest explorers enjoy nature safely.

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