In the fall, East Texas puts on a show for those of us who love color in our landscapes. I spend a lot of time admiring and photographing the displays, and am always appreciative of the more brilliant arrays.
I had an experience with this vine when I was fifteen that left me with a healthy respect, OK, something of a phobia, about this plant. After following some friends on a moonlit hunting expedition, I grabbed a handful of leaves to use for toilet paper. The next ten days were progressively more miserable, as the urushiol resin was spread to my arms, my face and elsewhere by my scratching. Calamine lotion and hot baths gave only temporary relief. Finally Granddad took me to his doctor, who called it “severe contact dermatitis”, and gave me a cortisone shot. He finished the appointment by telling me to be very careful, because he could only give a person one of these shots every few years for fear of long-term joint damage. Amazingly, by the time we got home an hour later the itching and swelling was over…the only marks left were my own scratch marks.
So when I see the distinctive three-leaf pattern I give it a wide berth. Note that I took these photos with a telephoto lens. Below you see where one of my neighbors had pulled a poison ivy vine off his pine tree. Sure hope he used a long-handled hoe.
Original article is here.