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Word of the Week: Bacciferous
December 18, 2020 by Haya Aldoori

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Poison Ivy berries

Bacciferous [ bak-SIF-er-uhs ] (botany adjective): Describing any plant that produces berries.

This fun word comes from the Latin word “baccifer” which means “bearing berries”

In High Park, there is a bacciferous plant that we should always be mindful of and that plant is Poison Ivy. During the colder months of the year, this plant will not have its characteristic “3 leaves” and can instead be identified by its knobby, woody stem and off-white, pea-sized berries that form in a cluster.

Poison Ivy is best known for causing some serious itchiness for hikers who venture off-trail. The itchy sensation experienced by those who have come into contact with Poison Ivy is a result of the urushiol oil that is present in all parts of the plant, including the stem and berries. This means that, even during the cold season, you are at risk of getting that itchy allergic reaction if you are not careful!

If you happen to touch poison ivy and get that itch inducing oil on your body, it’s important that you wear protective gloves and use soap and water to thoroughly wash the parts of your body which might be affected. Cold water is best as hot water can open your pores up and increase your body's ability to absorb the urushiol.

If you got the oil on your clothes, carefully remove the clothing item, wash it in hot soapy water, and hang it to dry for several days. You may need to repeat washing to make sure that all of it has come out.

On all of your future visits to the High Park, remember to stay on the hiking trails as Poison Ivy can be found growing almost everywhere!

Fun Fact: Many other animals don't have adverse reactions to poison ivy as humans do. In fact, for woodpeckers, warblers, vireos and many other birds, poison ivy's berries are a preferred source of food

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