Poison Ivy-what is it good for?
"Leaves of three, let them be". We've all heard that adage as children and learned to fear poison ivy. Urushiol, a clear liquid compound in the plant's sap, can cause an itchy and sometimes serious rash in humans. Other animals do not seem to develop an allergic reaction to the plant and can even browse on the leaves. As irritating as it can be to humans, poison ivy is a native plant that is important to wildlife. It's clusters of fruit are a valuable food source of migratory birds. At least 60 species of birds are known to eat poison ivy berries. Deer browse the leaves, rabbits feast on the bark, and the flowers provide nectar for pollinators. Poison ivy can take on different growth forms. It can grow as a shrub, often reaching waist high. You'll also find it vining up trees. Urushiol is present at all times of the year, so take care not to hug any trees without making sure that poison ivy is not growing up the side of the trunk. So learn to id and avoid poison ivy, but not fear it, while out for that hike at Busse Woods. Try this quiz to test your ability to recognize poison ivy in the wild.
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