Poison Ivy in Minnesota – a Plant that can Cause an Itchy Painful Rash

Poison Ivy in Minnesota – a Plant that can Cause an Itchy Painful Rash
poison ivy in Minnesota

“Leaves of three, let it be.”

Even if learning how to identify plants is not high on your priority list, it will pay off to learn this one. Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is (as the name suggests) poisonous and can cause an itchy and/or painful rash in those that come in contact with the sap of the plant.

Poison Ivy in Minnesota

It is found throughout Minnesota, most commonly in wooded areas; it grows particularly well in moist, shaded areas. Along stream banks, on the sides of roads, along paths, and along fences are all common places poison ivy can be found. I often see it while walking on trails through the woods. The phrase “leaves of three, let it be” is useful to remember, however, many plants have leaves in clusters of three.

Poison ivy is actually not an ivy at all, but a member of the Cashew (Anacardiaceae) family. The leaves are alternate and consist of three leaflets, which can vary in size and are noticeably shiny. It can grow as a vine or as a shrub.

poison Ivy in Minnesota

All parts of the plant contain a poisonous oil, called urushiol, that can cause an allergic reaction (urushiol is an allergen). The skin rash caused by poison ivy is called allergic contact dermatitis, and can look red, streaky, and include raised areas (hives), or fluid-filled blisters. The reaction can occur when part of your skin comes in contact with the oil, whether it came directly from the plant or not. This can occur through touching objects or clothing that has been in contact with the oil from poison ivy (careful doing laundry!), or even petting your dog after he has romped through a patch. The rash itself is not contagious, it can only be developed from touching the urushiol or something that has come in contact with urushiol.

The rash usually occurs between 8 – 48 hours after coming in contact with the urushiol, but it may take up to 15 days to make an appearance, according to AC Gladman in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. Repeated contact with the plant over time may cause rashes to develop more quickly. Some people may be “immune” to the urushiol and not develop a reaction at all. I personally have come in contact with poison ivy many times, and have never had a reaction – but it’s always possible that I could react to it in the future.

The rash can be initially treated by washing in cool water. Calamine lotion and antihistamines may help relieve the rash. Jewelweed, a plant commonly found in Minnesota, can be used to help sooth the itching as well – crush the stem or leaves and apply the juice to help relieve the itch. Severe cases may require treatment by a doctor.

jewelweed in minnesota poison ivy in Minnesota

Jewelweed – a natural remedy for itchy skin

The absolute best way to avoid getting a rash from poison ivy is to have the ability to recognize it and avoid the plant itself. If you can’t avoid the plants, wear long pants, and socks and shoes. Be sure to handle any clothing or items that have come in contact with the plants with care un

468 ad

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *