How to Identify Poison Ivy
Certain barriers exist between plant lovers and pure gardening bliss. Excessive heat and cold, nuisance pests like mosquitoes and yellow jackets, and one of the worst: poison ivy. Poison ivy is one of those plants that, if not for its noxious qualities, may have a usefulness in the landscape. As it is, however, we will wage war against it while it finds and exploits the weaknesses in our strategy. So be it.
Before you can fight the enemy, you have to know how to identify it. Poison ivy can take several forms: climbing vine, low shrub or groundcover. In all its forms, it features leaves growing in clusters of three. The leaves have pointed tips and may be smooth or toothed at the margin. During spring and summer the leaves are deep green, often glossy. Poison ivy flowers in spring and forms clusters of small white berries that may persist into winter if not consumed by wildlife. In fall, the leaves turn red or orange before dropping.
All too often, completely unrelated plants are confused with poison ivy. Virginia creeper may have similarly shaped leaves, but they are held in 5’s not 3’s. There are other small saplings and low shrubs that may have similar leaves, but counting the number of leaves per cluster is the best indicator whether it is poison ivy or something else that you see.
How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy
To control poison ivy, there are two methods. There are no chemical sprays that kill poison ivy exclusively, but there are some selective herbicides that may kill it without harming some other types of vegetation. There are also nonselective herbicides that kill nearly any plant they come in contact with. You are best advised to consult your local garden center for your particular situation. Read labels for yourself; do not rely solely on a salesperson’s recommendation. In many cases, physical removal is the best or only option. Never burn poison ivy, it is best to bag it up and throw it away.
Whether you spray or pull it out, protect yourself when dealing with poison ivy. Wear a hat, glasses, long pants/sleeves, gloves and boots. Cleanup as soon as you are finished, placing the exposed clothing directly into the wash and yourself into the shower. Clean any tools that may have the oils still present (leaving them in the sun may help, but cleaning with soapy water is a sure bet).
Ways To Contract Poison Ivy
- Direct contact with the leaves, stems, or roots of the plant at any time of year.
- Contact with pets that have been in poison ivy patches.
- Contact with tools or clothing that have been in contact with poison ivy.
Ways To Treat Skin That Has Been Exposed To Poison Ivy
- Wash with warm soapy water.
- Use calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to treat the itch.
- Use antihistimine to treat the itch.
- Do not scratch.
- Do not puncture blisters
Home Remedies (try at your own risk):
- banana peel
- watermelon rind
- cider vinegar
- baking soda
- oatmeal bath
- rubbing alcohol
- lemon juice
- cold coffee
- tea tree oil
- witch hazel
- asprin paste