Poison ivy

Definition of Poison ivy

(Bot.) an American woody creeper (Rhus Toxicodendron), with trifoliate leaves, and greenish-white berries. It is exceedingly poisonous to the touch for most persons.
(Bot.) a poisonous climbing plant (formerly Rhus Toxicodendron, or Rhus radicans, now classified as Toxicodendron radicans) of North America. It is common as a climbing vine, especially found on tree trunks, or walls, or as a low, spreading vine or as a shrub. As a low vine it grows well in lightly shaded areas, recognizable by growing in clusters of three leaves. Its leaves are trifoliate, rhombic-ovate, and variously notched. Its form varies slightly from location to location, leading to some speculation that it may consist of more than one species. Many people are poisoned by it, though some appear resistant to its effects. Touching the leaves may leave a residue of an oil on the skin, and if not washed off quickly, sensitive areas of skin become reddened and develop multiple small blisters, lasting for several days to several weeks, and causing a persistent itch. The toxic reaction is due to an oil, present in all parts of the plant except the pollen, called urushiol, the active component of which is the compound pentadecylacatechol (according to Charles H. Booras). See Poison sumac. It is related to poison oak, and is also called mercury.

See also: Ivy Poison

Related Words

Rhus dermatitis
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