Fall Color

Is this fall color?  Maybe. Maybe not.

This photo was taken on 9-5-2020 at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge (PINWR).  At a glance it appears that this plant has paired leaves. Look carefully to see that it is poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).

Three leaves, let it be is an old adage. Its leaflets are held in 3’s (trifoliate).  The terminal lead usually is held on a longer stem.

I took another photo of this same plant on 8/17/17, and it was looking pretty colorful in mid-August …

Folks from elsewhere, including Christina Issa (Class of 2020) most recently, remark that poison ivy looks different in Florida.  Maybe it’s due to the tropical climate.

Sometimes its leaves are not the expected shape, as seen below at Treasure Shores Park where the poison ivy is growing in the midst of simpson’s stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans).

Often, we see it growing upon the trunks of live oak (Quercus virginiana) at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area) along with peppervine (Nekemias arborea)

Its stems can get pretty thick, and new leaves are often bright green and pliable …

Often, a “rogue” leaf or 2 will be colorful …

In cooler climes, poison ivy is deciduous.  Spring leaves are pale green, summer leaves are dark green, and fall leaves are red.

European honeybees (Apis mellifera) and other pollinators  visit its flowers, as seen in this photo taken at PINWR …

Its small round fruits are consumed — and spread — by birds and other wildlife. They turn white when they are ripe.

Some ID lessons:

  1. Poison ivy is variable in appearance in Florida.
  2. Its leaflets are held in 3’s.  Be sure to check the overall appearance of the plant not just one or 2 leaves.
  3. Look for poison ivy growing along trail edges and on trees.

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