The Protector; Poison Ivy.

"I am a lover of uncontained and immortal beauty.  In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages.  In tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature." -Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays

I spend many hours walking in nature finding my solstice. I take my time, enjoying the song of an Oriole, the heady amorous call of a tree frog. or the wind blowing the tall prairie grass on the ridge. These moments are precious gifts or what I call grace.  I received one such grace a few years ago.

From a very small age, my mother or Grandmother would take us girls out in the woods and show us different plants we could eat, not eat, and avoid all together.  We learned  "the leaves of three " with red stems vining up a tree were given a wide berth.  We were in awe and a wee bit of terror of this plant. This plant was Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy contains a oil called urushiol which causes an allergic reaction in the form of a painful rash.

Some folks are extremely allergic to the plant for example, my nephew can walk by it without a touch and develop the painful rash because of the urushiol vapors on the plant.  I, personally have never received a rash from poison ivy. Thank you Mom and Grandma!


Sign posted by my favorite water hole in Hot Springs, SD  There is also a "Caution Rattlesnakes" sign next to it!


I believe everything in nature has a purpose, life and place on this earth, however I never gave Poison Ivy much thought about her purpose.  A few years ago, I began reading a book about plant energies. I discovered that Poison Ivy was considered a protector of plants and land. She is especially protective in areas where the ecosystem is fragile or "managed"  land by cutting down trees and tearing up soil. I have heard many stories where folks have had poison ivy growing in their yard. They would do any and everything in their power to destroy her but this resilient plant would grow back more lush. It makes me wonder what is she protecting in their yards? (Disclaimer, I am not encouraging folks to grow her in their yards LOL) By seeing Poison Ivy in a different perspective and appreciating her sacred role in the ecosystem, I received grace. Now, when I spend time in the wilderness and come across Poison Ivy, I thank her for her role, notice the area she is protecting but I still give her a wide berth.  

Poison Ivy climbing up a hiking trail sign as if to let all know she is watching out for the forest.


  • Jeanne Erlewine-Holloway

    I am adding your blog to my quiet morning coffee time. Thanks for your peacefulness.

  • Lani DeLong

    I will never think of Poison Ivy as a nuisance again! Great article!

  • John

    Thanks for the reminder of the beauty all around us.

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