Beware Of Poison Ivy and It’s Irritating Oil

Sufferers from the painful, itchy skin and eruptions caused by poison ivy spend many miserable hours.

To avoid this, it is most important to identify this plant, all-too-often found in gardens, as well as in the woods and along roadways over a large part of the country.

Poison IvyPin

Seeds dropped by birds cause young plants to spring up in the most unexpected places.

And just because you have been immune to its effects is no guarantee that you always will be.

You can lose your immunity and not realize it until too late. So it is wise to learn to recognize the plant.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy unfolds its shiny leaves early in the spring, and from then on, the plant thrives.

It also spreads through runners that cover a large area in a short time. It flourishes anywhere—in dry, wet, sunny, or shady places.

The thick stems of poison ivy may be seen clinging to tree trunks and making shrubby masses along stone walls and banks.

It often invades shrubs and laces itself into ornamental vines.

Identifying Characteristics

The poison ivy leaf is made up of three dark leaflets. Later in the season, it may also be identified by small whitish berries, but they are not overly conspicuous.

The shape of the leaflets may vary some, but all are more or less pointed.

Rootlets produced along its stems, which enable it to climb tree trunks and posts, are also an identifying characteristic.

Parthenocissus Quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper or Woodbine)

In contrast, the Virginia creeper or Woodbine (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), with which poison ivy (Rhus radicans) is sometimes confused, has 5 leaves, and its berries are black or purplish.

Fortunately, woodbine is not poisonous and may be used for covering pillars and walls, although it is not quite as attractive as its dangerous counterpart.

Extremely Potent Irritating Oil

Poison ivy contains an irritating oil whose skin effects may range from just a nuisance to a serious medical problem.

This oil is found in all parts of the plant:

  • Leaves
  • Stems
  • Roots
  • Fruit

The oil found in these parts is extremely potent, even in small quantities.

Infection can also come from handling shoes, or other clothing brushed against and bruising the plant.

It can be caused by touching an animal that has been through a patch of ivy, and inhaling smoke from burning plants can be very serious.

Different Ways Of Handling Poison Ivy

What to do about it?

Washing the skin with strong laundry soap or alcohol immediately after contact will often prevent poisoning.

Preparations for relieving the itching are also available in drugstores but in severe cases, consult a physician.

Hand pulling this serious pest is ineffective, as well as dangerous.

Using one of the chemical preparations sold for its eradication is a much better way to rid your property of this plant.

Regular brush killers are reasonably inexpensive and are sometimes used.

Brush killers cannot be put into sprayers intended for other uses, as washing does not completely remove the chemical residues, and desirable plants may be killed during subsequent sprayings.

Amino triazole and ammonium sulfamate are much better for destroying poison ivy because vapor does not drift to other plants, and their use does not sterilize the soil.

Amino triazole has the special advantage of causing no harm to other plants it may hit if it is used carefully and according to the manufacturer’s directions.