Even though poison ivy makes most of us itchy, the plant serves a vital function at Gateway. It provides cover and food for a wide variety of animals, and in many places its roots stabilize critical sand dunes. It is important that visitors be familiar with this plant’s three leaves, which can vary from bright green to reddish in spring and fall, with white berries in summer and fall. Poison Ivy at Gateway can grow as a low, trailside plant, as an aggressive tree-climbing vine, as a shrub, and even as a small tree. All parts of the plant contain the oil urushiol, which causes a skin rash in about half of the U.S. population.
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!" Also be wary of "hairy" vines on other trees. That can also be poison ivy.
Last updated: April 11, 2022