“Leaves of three, let it be.”

The old saw’s a sure way to avoid the itch of poison ivy.

But it can also make a place like Little Crum Creek seem a lot more daunting than warranted.

After all, several benign plants with three leaves thrive here.  Some are very common, like our recently featured boxelder, wineberry, blackberry, and Indian strawberry.

None carry the rash-inducing urushiol oil.

So learning to recognize them can reduce one’s proclivity to libel undeserving trifoliates.

Moreover this familiarity can help refine recognition of the true peril,  pictured here climbing over 30 feet up a tree.

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In addition to its leaves, those hairy-like rootlets are characteristic of an established vine.  They’ll cling to a tree all year long and can be a good sign of poison ivy even after its distinctive leaves are shed.

Still, to be certain, I contacted the “Poison Ivy Guy” who immediately confirmed this to be a massive infestation of the itchy stuff.  Then I notified the township that keeps the grounds.

101_1739edcropA101_1122edcropAPoison ivy creeps & climbs just about anywhere — high, low, and in between.  But that’s little reason to avoid the weeds and trees.

The fact rather compels us to open our eyes, see past our noses, mind our steps, and watch what we reach for.

Provided we do all that, the plant just might be a kind of ally.

Instead of completely repelling us, the consequential vine invites us to grow ever closer in knowledge & familiarity with a natural community like Little Crum Creek.

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Nestled delectably in the rose family, the Rubus genus numbers its raspberry and blackberry species into the hundreds.

At least one of these recently ripened from white to red to “black” berries here beside a mowed field.

By the second week of July, it was picked clean, probably by birds and other animals.

101_1599cropA101_1742cropB101_1597cropBFriends call these “wild blackberries.”   But a more specific appellation derived from minutely observed variations eludes me.

Does it matter?

In his Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, Bradford Angier writes:

Although there are differences in taste, all are good to eat, so as far as the amateur gourmet is concerned, the precise identification can be a matter of no more than casual curiosity.” *

Casually speaking, then, what would you call these berries?

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*I’d be remiss in not noting this:  Angier writes that all raspberries and blackberries are good to eat.  Maybe so. But that’s certainly not the case for everything that grows among them.  Look closely at these pictures and you might discover poison ivy, something you definitely don’t want contacting your berry-picking hands & arms, let alone your food.