Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall Color: Alert

Fall colors are about to reach their full glory and many plants are setting fruits and berries, which contain their seed and hopes for propagation. This beautiful native plant has it all: glossy red leaves and clusters of white berries. However, you’ll want to reject this stunner from your fall wreath-making. Its a great example of a native plant, that many birds adore, but most folks reject.

Poison Ivy, Toxicodendron radicans, this “leaves of three- let it be” is also prime example of the general rule to avoid eating white berries. You should probably avoid everything else about this plant as well. Many people have allergic reactions from urushiol, the toxin contained in the oil from the leaves, stems and roots. It creates a reaction from a mild rash to a severe condition demanding medical attention. This is a plant you should respect, and probably avoid until you know your tolerances.

Downy Woodpeckers adore poison ivy berries.

However, as loathed as is it by some people, it does have a valuable place in nature’s landscape. It is a primary food source in the winter months, and birders may note it's especially attractive to woodpeckers. So before you totally write this one off as a plant only Cruella De Vil would harbor, remember there is place in nature for plants we may not seek to cultivate at home.

1 comment:

  1. Will have a new admiration for Poison Ivy now..
    look dont touch.