Help avoid Poison Ivy this summer!

Have you ever had a Poison Ivy rash? It’s miserable! Awful hives that last for weeks, with only anti-itch creams to help and nothing that really makes it go away. I’m itchy just thinking about it! Poison Ivy produces a toxin called urushiol and it is exposure to the urushiol that causes the skin reactions we all fear. The best defense is to avoid Poison Ivy in the first place, but do you know how to identify it? It grows very aggressively in Ohio, so chances are you’ll come across it if you’re spending time outside. Here are some tips to help identify Poison Ivy:

Remember the rhyme: “Leaves of three, leave them be”. Poison Ivy has compound leaves – clusters of 3 shiny, bright green leaflets with irregular edges.


Leaves can vary in color, with young leaves appearing reddish but turning bright green as they mature.


Poison Ivy tends to grow in shady locations, especially forest edges, along trails, and in landscape beds. It has 3 growth forms:

It can grow as a vine on tree trunks, fences, or buildings


It can grow as a creeping groundcoverg


It can grow almost shrub-like: upright with a woody stem


In autumn the leaves change color to brilliant oranges and reds, which adds to our spectacular autumn scenery.


Even in winter when the leaves have dropped you can still have a reaction if you come in contact with Poison Ivy because the urushiol is always present in the stems, roots, and berries. You can recognize Poison Ivy in winter by the hairy vines and white berries.



So what’s Poison Ivy good for, then? Well, believe it or not Poison Ivy is actually a valuable wildlife plant – wildlife is generally not affected by the urushiol (although it does protect the plant from most caterpillar damage). Deer eat the leaves and berries, rabbits will feed on the stems and bark, and many birds depend on its berries during winter.

In fact, goats are even used in some areas to control Poison Ivy since they love to eat it. Unfortunately, most of us are sensitive to it, so remember: should you come in contact with Poison Ivy, wash the area with cold, running water as soon as possible to minimize the severity of the rash and help control its spread. There are products you can buy that target and remove the urushiol oil so if you spend lots of time outdoors it might be a good idea to check those out. Also, launder contaminated clothing separately.

For more photos and other helpful information, you can visit the following websites:


Garden Adventure is Saturday, June 7 from 10 am – 3 pm!

Family Garden Day is now Garden Adventure, and what an adventure it will be! Mill Creek MetroParks Garden Adventure is presented by Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley and sponsored by WFMJ/WBCB and Friends of Fellows Riverside Gardens. Mandy Smith, FRG Horticulture Education Manager spoke with Lori Mowad, FRG Horticulture Educator, to find out more about the day’s events.

MS: Why did Family Garden Day change to Garden Adventure?
LM: Family Garden Day was typically held in August and there were only activities in the Family Garden. Garden Adventure celebrates all of the family-friendly areas found within Fellows Riverside Gardens. We changed the date to the first Saturday in June, the 7th, to encourage families to come out to the Gardens this summer and enjoy the flowers, the activities, Family Garden Fridays, and more. Garden Adventure is a free event and will run from 10 am – 3 pm.

MS: The theme for the Family Garden this year is Alice in Wonderland. Will Alice be at Garden Adventure?
LM: Oh yes, Alice will definitely be at Garden Adventure along with the White Rabbit, the Red Queen, the Red King, the Mad Hatter, Tweedledee, and Tweedledum! The Red Queen will actually be telling stories throughout the day. Families will be able to make their own Mad Hatter hats, play flamingo croquet, craft edible teacups, meet a live rabbit, and plant dahlias that will bloom red or white. By choosing the Alice in Wonderland theme, not only are we are celebrating plants, but also literacy and imagination as well.

MS: How will I be able to find all of the activities?
LM: The entrance to Garden Adventure will be brightly decorated and that is where each family can pick up a map and a schedule of activities. Activities are appropriate for ages 2 and up. In addition to Alice in Wonderland activities, you can make wooden planters with our friends from Home Depot, participate in a Drum Circle in the Ohio Woodland Garden, learn about pollinators and meet the Beekeeper, and visit our Plant Spirals exhibit in the Weller Gallery.

MS: What if I can’t make it to Garden Adventure? Are there other family-friendly activities at the Gardens this summer?
LM: Yes! Every Friday, now through October 17, there are Family Garden Friday drop-in activities from 11 am – 1 pm. Each week focuses on a different theme, such as worms, sunflowers, apples, etc. There are usually plantings, crafts, games, a walk, and a story. A special family program called Flashlights & Fireflies will be held on Thursday, June 26 from 7 – 8:30 pm, where families will go on a tour of the Gardens after sun down and make a firefly craft. Each month, the Gardens offers programs for children ages 3-17. June’s programs are Wonderland Creatures (ages 3-5), Bugs of Wonderland (ages 6-11), and Botanical Soaps (ages 10-17) all held on June 28. To register for these programs, call Fellows Riverside Gardens at 330.740.7116. To see all the family friendly events happening throughout the MetroParks, visit our event page.

For questions or more information about Garden Adventure, call Fellows Riverside Gardens at 330.740.7116. See you in Wonderland!


Mill Creek MetroParks Road Closures Saturday 5/24

The following roads in Mill Creek Park will be closed to vehicular traffic as well as cyclists and pedestrians from approximately 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 24 for the YMCA Memorial 5 Mile Run:

  • East Glacier Drive
  • Memorial Hill Drive
  • West Glacial Drive
  • Price Road

Always use caution when driving on MetroParks roads as many roads are also used by pedestrians and bicyclists. Pedestrians and bicyclists should be reminded to also use caution and be aware of vehicular traffic when on roads. For more information about Mill Creek MetroParks, visit our website at