Living in Michigan means embracing the outdoors. All of it. Including the menace known as poison ivy. Do you know how to identify this itch and rash-inducing plant that seems to pop up in your yard, garden, lakeshore, or woods overnight? Let's dive into identifying this three-leaved terror so you can avoid several scratch-filled days.

Michigan Has Two Varieties of Poison Ivy, Both Have Three Leaves: The Devils Trifecta

Skip the Itch: How to Spot Poison Ivy in Michigan

Poison ivy's leaves are like the Kim Kardashians of the plant world--they cannot be escaped. They come in threes, always three, no more, no less. The middle leaflet is the Beyonce of the group, with a longer stem, while the two sidekicks have stems so short they might as well not exist.

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These leaves do change outfits depending on the season. Michigan's poison ivy will be reddish in the spring, green in the summer, and blazing yellow, orange, or red in the fall. Some leaves are smooth and innocent-looking, while others have jagged edges like they're out for blood. Poison ivy always keeps you guessing in Michigan.

Poison Ivy Growth: Michigan's Creepy Climber vs. the Sneaky Shrub

Skip the Itch: How to Spot Poison Ivy in Michigan

In Michigan, Eastern poison ivy is the overachiever, growing as a hairy, ropelike vine that clings to anything it can. Imagine a clingy ex that won't go away and gives you an itchy rash--that's Eastern poison ivy.

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On the other hand, Western poison ivy is a bit more grounded, preferring to spread out as a low shrub. Both types have a talent for popping up in the most inconvenient places: grassy fields, riverbanks, lakefronts, and even ocean beaches (if you're vacationing outside of Michigan.)

Michigan Poison Ivy: The Sneaky Assassin

Skip the Itch: How to Spot Poison Ivy in Michigan

Unlike roses, poison ivy doesn't bother with warning signs like thorns. Its secret weapon is the hairy adventitious roots. These roots cling to surfaces and can release urushiol, the villainous oil responsible for those infamous itchy rashes. Touching poison ivy is like playing with fire; you might not feel the burn immediately, but 12 hours up to a few days later, you'll regret it.

Related: Michigan Has One Venomous Snake, But Can It Kill You?

So there you have it, Michigan adventurers. Keep an eye out for the three-leaved trickster and its various disguises. Recognize it, avoid it, and you might enjoy your outdoor adventure rash-free.

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Poison Hemlock and Plants Resemble Poison Hemlock

Gallery Credit: Tammie Toren

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