Plant of Week 16: Poison Ivy

This week's plant of the week isn't a fun one, but poison ivy grows abundantly on Martha's Vineyard so it's important to learn to identify it. Poison ivy isn't actually poisonous, but causes an allergic reaction in most people who touch it. This is because of a component found in the sap of its leaves, stems, and roots called urushiol, which is also present in poison oak and poison sumac. Contact with poison ivy can cause redness, pain, itching, and blisters which last 1-2 weeks. Did you know that poison ivy belongs to the same plant family as cashews, pistachios, and mango?

Species: Toxicodendron radicans

HABITAT: Poison ivy is most often found in eastern North America and parts of Asia.

IS IT EDIBLE?: Absolutely not.

IS IT MEDICINAL?: Despite the severe side effects, poison ivy leaves have been used in homeopathy to treat skin problems and dermatitis. We do not recommend trying this at home.

Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.