Poison ivy

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Toxicodendron radicans, better known as poison ivy, (older synonyms are Rhus toxicodendron and Rhus radicans)[1] is a poisonous North American plant that is well known for its production of urushiol, a clear liquid compound found within the sap of the plant that causes an itching rash in most people who touch it.[2] The plant is not a true ivy (Hedera).

Poison ivy can be found growing in any of the following three forms:

  • as a trailing vine that is 10–25 centimeters tall (4 to 10 inches)
  • as a shrub up to 1.2 meters tall (4 feet)
  • as a climbing vine that grows on trees or some other support

Contents

Distribution and habitat

Poison ivy grows throughout much of North America, including the Canadian Maritime provinces, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and all U.S. states east of the Rockies, as well as in the mountainous areas of Mexico up to around 1,500 m (4,900 ft) (caquistle or caxuistle is the Nahuatl term), and is normally found in wooded areas, especially along edge areas. It also grows in exposed rocky areas and in open fields and disturbed areas. It also grows as a forest understory plant, although it is only somewhat shade tolerant.[1] The plant is extremely common in suburban and exurban areas of New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and southeastern United States. Similar species, poison oak, and Toxicodendron rydbergii are found in western North America. Poison ivy rarely grows at altitudes above 1,500 m (4,900 ft), although the altitude limit varies in different locations.[1] The plants can grow as a shrub up to about 1.2 metres (3.9 ft) tall, as a groundcover 10–25 cm (3.9–9.8 in) high, or as a climbing vine on various supports. Older vines on substantial supports send out lateral branches that may at first be mistaken for tree limbs.

It is not particularly sensitive to soil moisture, although it does not grow in desert or arid conditions. It grows in a wide variety of soil types, and soil pH from 6.0 (acidic) to 7.9 (moderately alkaline). It can grow in areas subject to seasonal flooding or brackish water.[1]

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