Three Common Vines:
Poison Ivy, Trumpet Vine, and Virginia Creeper
Since some of our local vines have short seasonal blooms, these vines can be better and easily identified by the shape of their leaves.
- Poison ivy is an upright, climbing, or trailing vine that has the reputation of being an infamous weed. As a high-climbing vine, its growth often reaches out from its host tree, resembling the branches of this tree. Young student leaf collectors have occasionally fallen victim to this misleading type of growth. Poison ivy, when growing as a small erect shrub, is called poison oak, with leaves similar to those of poison ivy. Botanists now say that poison ivy and poison oak are the same species, surviving as an ecotype; that is, the same species is growing under different environmental conditions. Needless to say, some of us may suffer severe skin irritation, itching, and blistering when we come in contact with the volatile oils of this plant. Sooty smoke from the burning of leaves and stems of poison ivy, can reap havoc with allergic individuals who pass through the veil of smoke.
- Touching the leaves or flowers of the trumpet vine or cow-itch may produce blisters and inflammation of the skin — conditions that may last a few days.
- As concerning the Virginia creeper, “This common plant is highly suspected of causing poisoning and death of children from eating the berries. The details are not known.” This is a quote from James W. Hardin and Dr. Jay M. Arena's book, Human Poisoning
from Native and Cultivated Plants, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2nd edition, 1974.
Copyright © 2003 William T. Hathaway.