Organism of the day #8

Name:
Poison Ivy

SCIENTIFIC NAME:
Toxicodendron radicans

KINGDOM:
Plantae

ENDANGERMENT:
Least concern

RANGE:
In North America, poison ivy can be found abundantly in Canada and the United States. Hell, the ivy has even been found in some mountains of Mexico (up to 5000 feet above sea level). In the USA, the ivy grows prevalently in the east, having a spread from Florida north to New York and Vermont or Maine. It thrashes west to South (but not North) Dakota and south once more to the state of Texas. As far as the westward spread, that marks where the poison ivy ends. However, it has isolated populations in Arizona (but seldom recorded in Colorado or New Mexico, which is interesting to note because it would seem that those areas are of necessity for poison ivy to have been able to breach into Arizona). And just as many other previously recorded fungi and plants before it, the poison ivy specimens exist in Canada, but only in Ontario and Quebec. Possibly in ages past, the poison ivy got across the pacific ocean to coastal Asian areas. Populations occupy Taiwan, Hong Kong, and central China.

ALL STATES IT OCCUPIES (abbreviation):
AL, AR, AZ, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NY, OH, NJ, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV

HABITAT:
The poison ivy is not picky when it comes to places to live and thrive. It very much enjoys anthropogenic areas or forests. The poison ivy relies on full or partial sunlight to grow, so the ivy is found in the areas of forests where the three line breaks, where the sun’s bright shine filters through and gives the poison ivy the necessary nutrients. Outside of forests, it prefers other exposed rocky areas or open fields. It’s not biased towards any specific soil moisture and even grows in some very acidic soils, having a soil pH of up to 6.0. Despite this lack of pickiness, the poison ivy will not grow in a desert or arid environment, or an environment with a high carbon dioxide level. The ivy is also partial to areas with occasional seasonal flooding

AUTHORS NOTE:
Outside of the screen, I live in a very highly suburban area of Colorado. Near my house, the terrain is extremely strange. There’s a dip in the land where water runs through in the spring. On the other side is an area switching between open fields and dense forests giving a home to deer and coyote. In the golden open fields, a seed-bearing plant thrives and colors the earth gold. Over the past year, less water has been running in the normally dirty dip, allowing for vegetation to grow. Now, on the side with the houses there once laid a large patch of poison ivy. Due to the new competition of land with the other weeds, and the fact that the competing weeds came over in winter, the ivy was unable to survive and have since died (except for the appropriately named “garden of Weeden”)

DESCRIPTION:
The poison ivy appears in a variety of circumstances, making it hard to provide a definite description when it comes to things like average size and shape. The deciduous leaves of poison ivy have three almond-shaped leaflets (smaller leaves that compose the large leaf). The leaf color is a light to dark green, that darkens with age. They turn bright red in the fall or while expanding. Throughout their life, they cycle between the colors green, yellow, orange, and red. They’re also reportedly shiny. Each leaflet is 3-12 cm (1.2-4.7 in) long with some able to get a foot (30 cm) long. The leaflets are ridged with teeth on the edge with a smooth surface. The plant has no thorns. Instead, it likes to deliver its poison through different means

POISON:
The allergic reaction produced through contact with a poison ivy plant is from a chemical called urushiol, which has caused anaphylaxis (extreme swelling of the face and throat) in some cases. It also sparks a rash or blisters that last five to twelve days, or near a month in some cases. Annually, 350,000 victims in the US alone receive urushiol through poison ivy, That is the same number of people as the population of Iceland. It's the sap produced from poison ivy that contains the urushiol that leads to the caustic effects

SOURCES:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxicodendron_radicans
https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=tora2
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c261
https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=tora2
https://gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/toxicodendron/radicans/

IMAGE:
A massive wall of poison ivy