WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 19 of 195

W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s u m m e r 2 0 1 5 18 the ponds and waterways you are likely to find it. It has compound leaves with five to thirteen leaflets — a distinctly different arrangement than the ivy or oak — and it grows to about twenty feet, with incon- spicuous flowers in spring and berries in the fall. All three of these natives produce wonderful fall colors and berries that support wildlife. All parts (roots, stems, leaves) of poison ivy, oak, and sumac are poisonous, containing a potent sap, urushiol, which causes the irrita- tion no matter what the season. Always wear protective clothing and wash it immediately as the urushiol stays viable for years. If you are susceptible, and there is no advantage to finding out by experience, there is no known cure. Remember, leaves of three, let them be. Make this your mantra for summer and beyond. Careful gardening! ing characteristic is that on mature climbing plants the stems become hairy or covered in what is known botanically as "aerial roots." Birds and deer eat the berries, distributing the seeds, and poison ivy's rhizomes, creeping underground stems, can also take root. Basically, this is one tough and determined plant. Another native that has the ubiquitous leaves of three is poison oak, Toxicodendron diversiloba, which can grow as a vine or shrub, never, as the name misleadingly suggests, as a tree. But the compound leaves have a distinct oak look and seedlings can easily be mistaken for small oaks. Like poison ivy, poison oak can climb and can also be a masquerader, but fortunately it is much less common here then out west. Neither poison ivy nor oak is particular to where it will grow — sun/shade, moist/dry — in short, both are quite adaptable. I've certainly seen poi- son ivy in public parks, on golf courses, and throughout campuses around the area, where it is much more common than poison oak. The last in our toxic series is poison sumac, Toxicodendron vernix, a native deciduous shrub found in moist, wet places; so if you hike around RUTH FURMAN is a Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist (MCH). She trained in horticulture in England and spent many happy years working and gardening there. To reach Ms. Furman, email her at: Ruth@wellesleywestonmagazine.com. "leaves of three, let them be" the green scene Poison Oak Poison Sumac P O I S O N O A K : D W I G H T S / D R E A M S T I M E . C O M

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