Ah, the perils of fall

See a pretty leaf, pick a pretty leaf…

Maybe not if it’s poison ivy! Its color varies from this beautiful orange-red to a duller yellow, depending on how much sun the plants got and how much sugar is left in the leaves.

And of course, these native vines may be hidden among some more appealing plants, like this berry or the late-blooming smartweed we featured as our mystery plant a few Sundays ago. Look before you touch!

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Beware of changing leaves

So folks, it’s that time of the year–or soon will be. We are getting lots of rain from regular weather, as well as Hurricane Florence pushing some up this way, so our trees and hillsides aren’t drying out. But have you noticed it’s dark by 7:30 these days? Fall equinox is this Saturday, at 9:54 pm. (How do you humans figure these things out?) The plants know the daylight hours are waning and will start to pull in their sugars. This makes the leaves pretty, and you humans like to touch them. Except theres one that shouldn’t be touched…

Yep, that’s the very pretty fall variation of poison ivy. The leaves are drying so don’t have as much natural oil as it does in the spring–the stuff that causes itchiness–but it has enough.

Leaves of three, let it be!

No Mystery Today!

Hey, sorry, I know! But here’s a poison ivy and a Virginia creeper for you to ponder the difference between.

Both vines, both native. Remember, leaves of three let it be!

If you need more practice, here’s a link to our poison ivy-Virginia creeper quiz. Get the answers by clicking on the next post at the bottom of that page…back then we put our answers in separate posts–*facepaw*. You can also search those individual posts in the search box to learn more about each plant.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

The poison ivy season is upon us again. Can you tell it apart from other vines? That’s your mystery challenge today!

1

2

3

4

Which is / are poison ivy? What are the others?

Will check in later for your answers!

~~~

These are all vines in our area of northern Virginia. We had a correct guess in the comments on the poison ivy, number 2: ‘Leaves of three, let it be’ is a good reminder of what it looks like.

Number 1 is a plant that perhaps you should fear more than poison ivy–it’s a horrible invasive, mile-a-minute weed.

Number 2, the dangerous poison ivy.

Number 3 is the top vine confused with poison ivy, Virginia Creeper. It commonly has 5 leaflets to a leaf, but that varies tremendously, from 5 to 9!

Number 4 is trumpet creeper vine, native, not poisonous, but is so aggressive that some gardeners choose not to let it grow.

Thanks for visiting!

I is for Poison Ivy

We are repeating a favored perennial for ‘I” on the Blogging From A to Z Challenge: Ivy, of the poisonous kind!

Please consider this a nature service announcement! This native vine can be one of the nastiest you encounter in our woods, fields, and even your lovely foundation plantings. Notice we said ‘can be’. Some people do not react to this plant’s oils that cause itching. But with exposure, their tolerance can decrease, so it pays not to expose yourself unnecessarily.

In the spring, it looks like this:

In the fall it looks like this:

In the winter it looks like this:

Don’t get poison ivy this year. Know what it looks like so you can avoid it.

Mile-A-Minute Weed, a serious invasive

A human reader mentioned watching out for invasive species in the comments of our Ox-eye Daisy post last week. Plants like Ox-eye Daisy and Queen Anne’s Lace that became naturalized in our fields decades ago aren’t as big of a threat to nature as new plants that are taking over. One of the worst is Mile-a-Minute Weed, Persicaria perfoliata.

Mile-A-Minute Weed Leaves

The leaves are quite distinctive–a triangle. Note the barbs on the stem. Nothing else looks like Mile-A-Minute Weed.

While it may not really travel a mile in a minute, this vigorous vine can grow six inches in a day and will smother wildflower and  shrubs.

Mile-A-Minute

That should be enough to convince you to pull those little triangular leaves any time, any place you see them. If you need to know more, here’s the New York Invasive Species information on Mile-A-Minute. Good photos!