I am going to photograph and identify at least 100 species of plant within walking distance of my home.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

#4 Poison Ivy

Common Name: Poison Ivy

Latin Name: Toxicodendron radicans

What I know about this plant: It produces the evil urushiol chemical that I'm seriously allergic to! Grows on woody vines that can get sapling thick as they grow parasitically up a tree and appear sort of hairy; leaves grow in threes and turn a lovely red in fall before dropping; whitish berry clusters form in late summer/early fall and are favored by small birds
Photo: The very mature plant on the nearly dead pine outside my kitchen window. I learned about the evil of this plant spring 2007 when I was pregnant with Elias and had urushiol-induced dermatitis covering about 80% of my body after doing some spring cleaning in the yard. I had been pulling the vines down out of the trees, totally unaware of what they were, and the chemical even got into some scratches I had on my arms. I was in agony for weeks, and it was all over me! The midwife offered me some meds, but I just took half doses of Benadryl and slathered on Triamcinolone Acetonide lotion when the itching got really bad. The Benadryl pretty much dried up my milk for William. :( He wasn't phased by it, though, and is still nursing. Just recently, I brushed a finger against a leaf growing in our yard waste pile, and within 10 minutes I had a blister forming from the contact. I went inside and scrubbed my hands with hot water and put some of the TCA lotion on it and I was fine. Scared me, though.

#3 Storm Lily

Common name: Storm Lily or Surprise Lily

Latin name: Unknown to me

What I know about this plant: deep-planted bulb; stalks with no greenery shoot up quite suddenly in early fall and open into clumps of from 3 to 5 blossoms; flowers are reddish pink and have long, narrow petals with ruffled edges and very long, spiky stamens; don't bloom every year (hence the "surprise" name)

Photos: William's hand picking a stalk that was growing by the mailbox. There were also several growing in a sort of semicircle near the chimney on the south side of the house, right in the lawn like these here, and I suppose a previous owner had maintained more cleared garden space than we do. I picked those by the chimney and hung them in the kitchen window with the hanging vase Virginia gave me. I was worried they would get mowed down. Fabian hadn't seen them, since he leaves for work when it's still dark, and he got all jealous like I had a visit from El Sancho (my mysterious nonexistant lover). I took him outside and showed him the stalks I had picked. He laughed and apologized and we marvelled at how quickly they had jumped up and bloomed!

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I'm wife to a lovely, hard-working man and mother to two fantastic, happy boys.