“Leaves of three? Let them be!” “One Two Three? Don’t touch me!”
Most of us have heard little ditties like these to help us identify Poison Ivy -aka The Itch. The sayings make it seem so obvious to spot, but I commonly run into people who are fighting the nasty rash left in the wake of a walk in the woods or working in the yard.
So how can we identify Toxicodendron radicans? First off, it’s helpful if you know where it prefers to grow, which is edges. Edges? Yep, edges of woods, edges of fields, edges of roads, and even edges of parking lots. Poison Ivy can grow just about anywhere and it does grow in several forms. It has been identified as vines, shrubs and individual plants that look like a sprout from the ground with the famous three leaves.
I could give you some characteristics but a picture is worth a thousand words so…
The Itch is persistent in that it can get you during winter, summer, spring, or fall. All parts of the plant are toxic. The rash is actually caused by coming in contact with the oil which is present on the leaves, stems, flowers, berries and even roots.
How do we get rid of it? Well, if you are a DIY-er then you need to take several precautions. Make sure you have on long sleeves and pants, gloves, and even a face mask is recommended. Cut it down using hand sheers. Do not use a chain saw or string trimmer because it will spray the oil from the plant. Place the clippings in a trash bag. If you can dig the roots out make sure you place them in the trash bag as well. Next you want to spray it with a herbicide that contains glyphosate, such as Round Up. Make sure you follow label instructions and precautions when using any chemicals. This should be done right after you cut it- before the plant forms a callous.
Whatever you do, don’t burn The Itch. The fumes themselves are toxic and can cause severe pain in your throat and lungs if inhaled. Wash and sterilize all equipment that was used, because the oil from the plant can stay on your tools for quite some time. Lastly, remove your clothes and wash them in hot water. A special detergent is not needed. Regular laundry detergent will do the job.
Hope this was helpful!