• Get away to Gateway, where you can camp and stay healthy with heart-smart activities. Photo by Sebastiano Privitera; used by permission.

    Gateway

    National Recreation Area NY,NJ

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy is common to abundant throughout Gateway, providing shelter and food for wildlife and anchoring critical dune systems.
Poison Ivy is common to abundant throughout Gateway, providing shelter and food for wildlife and anchoring critical dune systems.
NPS PHOTO
 

"Leaves of Three, Let Them Be"

Even though poison ivy makes most of us itchy, the plant serves a vital function at Gateway. Its tough woody roots hold sand dunes in place. Sandy Hook Unit has a lot of poison ivy, but it grows commonly in Gateway's two other units as well, as it does throughout the New York metropolitan area.

If you only look for poison ivy at ground level, you might miss a branch brushing your cheek. The plant not only wraps itself around other plants but it can grow on its own to the height of six feet. It grows best where its roots are shaded but it can be found in sunny areas as well.

Urushiol, the oil which make its leaves shiny--and which make half of the U.S. population break out in hives--is present in every part of the plant, including the stem and roots. People can get poison ivy even in winter by digging where the plant grows.

Since poison ivy is one of the most commonly found plants at Gateway, visitors should learn how to identify it. The color may change from dark, glossy green to speckled with red and yellow, depending upon the season. But its leaves always grow in groups of three. Remember the old saying: "Leaves of three, let it be!"

Did You Know?

World War I recruiting poster for the Coastal Artillery Corps.

All of Gateway NRA's units include sites that defended New York Harbor from attacks from the sea, from the Revolutionary War through World War II. They are Fort Hancock, Fort Tilden, and Fort Wadsworth. Learn about the history of coastal defense by visiting any of these sites. More...