This time of year brings something a little unpleasant in that no matter how careful I am, I manage to get poison ivy somewhere. I'll admit that I wasn't as careful as I could have been this spring though. I distinctly remember pulling weeds, getting into a nice rhythm, and just as I reached for that three-leaved one, it was like I was watching myself in slow motion. Even as I grabbed it - bare-handed (shame on me!) - I knew what it was, but couldn't stop myself.
I immediately went to the nearby swimming pool and washed my hands, rubbing them back and forth vigorously, and then went in the house to wash some more, this time with soap. I'm convinced this helped me avoid a nasty reaction, but I still had outbreaks on several fingers of both hands. I've got a small area on the inside of my left elbow and my left knee, too.
|Poison Ivy growing in the sedum|
In recent years, it seems that we've got more and more poison ivy seedlings that pop up throughout the summer. We both know well what it looks like, which helps when it comes to ridding our property of it. It has three notched leaves, a red stem when it's young, and nearly always is growing at the base of trees. I can count on finding it under the shagbark hickory.
Likely, the birds have eaten the berries from a different location, perhaps in a nearby woods or along the ditch banks, and then they excrete them as they rest and nest in our trees. The result is a new crop of poison ivy.
My method of removing the seedlings is this: I have a box of latex gloves just for unpleasant tasks. Pulling poison ivy certainly qualifies as one of those! I wear the gloves as I carefully pull the seedlings with my left hand, putting them then in my right as I walk around, trying to remember where I've seen the poison ivy during my gardening tasks.
Once I've gotten them all, I wad them up into a ball in my right hand, carefully pull that glove off inside out, with the seedlings inside, put that in my left hand, then also carefully pull off that glove inside out with the entire contents inside. I tie a knot in the top and toss it in the garbage.
Today, I found 13 seedlings. I wish I'd left that 14th one for today's poison ivy patrol.
- The offending substance in poison ivy is urushiol and it's so potent that only ¼ ounce of it would be enough to infect every single person on earth.
- Poison ivy only grows in the eastern United States, so you can get away from it by moving to California, where they have poison oak.
- One to five years is the normal length of time for urushiol to stay active on any surface.
- You cannot get poison ivy from another person unless they still have the urushiol on their skin. It also doesn't spread by opening the blisters. It's only spread by the oil from the plant itself.
- 90% of the population is allergic to urushiol.