Irritants Are Leafing Out | Outside My Window

Poison ivy, young leaves, 25 April 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Trees are not the only plants leafing out right now, so are two irritating plants.

Poison Ivy:

The young leaves on woody stems (above) look a lot like the new leaves of ash or maple saplings, but don’t be fooled. This is poison ivy.

Look at the plant from above to count 3 leaves. Notice that the stem on the middle leaf is much longer than the other two, a telltale sign of poison ivy.

Poison ivy, 24 April 2019 (photo by Kate St. John)

For more identification tips, check the poison ivy ID page at

Stinging Nettle:

Stinging nettle (photo by Kate St. John)

Stinging nettle looks innocent until you touch it.

The stems and leaves are coated with tiny hollow hairs that contain histamines and painful chemicals. When you touch the plant the hairs detach and become needles in your skin. Look closely to see them on the leaf edges and stems below.

Stinging nettle resembles a lot of other nettles so the best way to identify it is to look closely for those tiny hairs. Watch out! … Ow!

(photos by Kate St. John)