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Poison Ivy - The Prequel #22 Traditional Geocache

Hidden : 08/26/2022
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

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Geocache Description:

This geocache is part of the Gold Country GeoTour – The Prequel: Be A Guest.  This GeoTour focuses on a step back in time to learn about before the Gold Rush ensued: languages of the region’s culturally diverse families, handed down traditions such as recipes, flora and fauna, historic sites of significance, and points of interest. These stories will help preserve the oral languages and traditions of the region as well as assist in educating visitors and locals alike to the cultural diversity and environmental sensitivity of the region.


Poison Ivy: Toxicodendron rydbergii, the Western Poison ivy also referred to as poison oak, or poison sumac, however it is neither.

Secwepemc: lleqmém̓llp (Poison Ivy), słiqt, łəqəmem’łp

Stl’atl’imx (Fraser River): lheqm̓álhp (Poison Ivy), łəq-líqəq-xal (it makes you itchy), or łəqm’-álp

Nlaka’pamux: swəl’wl’íqt, or p’əqʷ’p’əqʷ’nwéłn tək swəl’wl’íqt (rash-causing), swəl’wl’íqt’, k’ə́ st tək swəl’wl’íqt’, or ts’eʔk’nwéłn tək stuyt-úym’xw (cause-itching plant and variants)

Nsyilxcən: łekłeknʕ w ’áłn’t (beginning to get a sore or rash), or łiq-m’-ałp (Poison Ivy)

Líl̕wat: sul’áqeʔe (something that burns)

English translation: Poison Ivy, it makes you itchy, rash-causing, beginning to get a sore or rash


Family: Anacardiaceae

Origin: Native

Duration: Perennial

Color: Leaves are reddish in the spring, changing to green in summer, changing again in the fall to multicoloured (oranges, yellows, and reds.) Flowers are greenish to creamy white.  The fruits are white, yellow, or even brown.

Typical Bloom (varies by elevation): Summer (June - July). Fruits appear in late summer to early fall.


“Leaves of three let them be, leaves of five let it thrive.” Is a common rhyme used in identifying Poison Ivy. Leaves of three are an authentic characteristic of Poison Ivy as the leaves always appear in bunches of three leaflets.  The western Poison Ivy is native to much of Canada from the far east to the west in British Columbia growing as far down as the south United States. 

Western Poison Ivy grows as a shrub reaching from 3 feet up to 10 feet tall.  The leaves grow in groups of three and are alternating on the woody stems.  The shape of the leaves can vary from almond, oval, or egg shaped, and may have toothed, notched, or smooth margins all on the same plant. The greenish to cream coloured clusters of flowers appear May through July.  After flowering, Poison Ivy produces pea sized fruits that are white, yellow, or even brown in colour maturing August through November and they each contain a tiny seed.

Sometimes confused with poison oak or poison sumac, Poison Ivy contains the same organic compound as the previous two that create its painful rash, urushiol. Urushiol is an oily clear liquid in the plant’s sap that will cause a severe allergic skin rash or contact dermatitis for most individuals. The effects of contact with Poison Ivy can take up to 24 hours before appearing on the skin as an itchy and irritating rash that is sometimes accompanied by blisters that is painful in almost all people who come into contact with it. Because urushiol is an oil, it may transfer from clothing and tools to the skin long after the items had contact with the Poison Ivy.  This oil can be washed away by cleaning clothing and tools that may have been in contact immediately with it with soap and water. Very few people are naturally immune to the effects of the urushiol found in Poison Ivy and its relatives Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, and the Chinese Lacquer tree.

Poison Ivy can be identified by its four main characteristics: shiny leaflets that grow in clusters of three, leaflets alternate on the stem, no thorns present, and the leaflet groups of three each grow on their own stems connecting to the main branch with the middle leaf stem being longer than the others in the group.

Indigenous Cultural Notes: The Secwépemc would drink large quantities of Labrador tea and would also boil the tops of the Arrowleaf Balsamroot to make a solution used to wash and bathe in to help soothe urushiol burns caused by contact with Poison Ivy. The Nsyilxcən (Okanagan) would use the milky sap from the stems of the smooth sumac (R. glabra) to applying it to affected skin to soothe the irritating rash.

Interesting Facts: Poison Ivy is not a “true” Ivy (Hedera) but is actually a member of the pistachio and cashew family (Anacardiaceae).  The plant’s seeds are food to birds, and the plant itself is commonly eaten by many animal species, who are not allergic to the urushiol.  Technically the plants do not contain a poison, urushiol is actually a potent allergen that very few humans are immune to.


Medicinal plant information is for historical information only. Gold Country Communities Society is not encouraging harvesting of native plants for food and/or medicine.


Researched and written by Lana Rae Brooks Accessed August 19, 2022 Accessed August 19, 2022 Accessed August 19, 2022
J. Antos, R. Coupé, G. Douglas, R. Evans, T. Goward, M. Ignace, D. Lloyd, R. Perish, R. Pojar, A. Roberts - Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia and the Inland Northwest – edited by Parish, Coupe, Lloyd -– 5 -2910 Commercial Drive Vancouver, BC V5N 6C9 -Lone Pine Publishing – 1996, Pg 70


Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Jr xrcg lbh bhg bs gur cbvfba vil, ohg jr ubcr lbh rawbl gur fntr!

Decryption Key


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