Growing up, I was never allergic to poison ivy, so when I started gardening as an adult, I never bothered to learn what it looked like. After an intense weeding session several years ago, however, all of that changed. I was apparently no longer immune to poison ivy - and I was bound and determined to never suffer such a bout of itchy miserableness again! I quickly learned to spot the infamous 'leaves of three'!
This area is known for having copious amounts of poison ivy (as many fellow gardeners told me after moving up here to the Northeast), so I was dismayed but not surprised when many 'leaves of three' popped up this spring in the shady area under my back deck.
Every few weeks I went into the backyard carefully armed and protected with gloves and plastic bags and removed all the offensive seedlings. My kids were not allowed to play there under the deck, and when we had to stain the wooden deck supports this summer, Mr. Red House and I wore protective boots and dreamed about our future patio that would smother all of this poison ivy.
Then the other day I noticed a very curious thing. I spotted a poison ivy plant that I had missed in my weeding, and it was... blooming?
All those plants under my deck weren't poison ivy at all! Those impostors were actually Bidens frondosa - I had been most carefully pulling up a harmless native wildflower.
Bidens frondosa prefers moist soil and will grow easily in light shade or in full sun. It has compound leaves, usually with either 3 or 5 leaflets. Thus it can sometimes be mistaken by certain gardeners for poison ivy...
|Aha! Leaves are directly opposite each other = not poison ivy!|
It looks rather suspicious...
What do you guys think?