Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: Poison Ivy proliferates
Poison Ivy is prolific this year. As storms moved through parts of our area, friends had some downed trees. While helping them, our chainsaw wielder had to stop – as he got deeper into the small wooded area, the poison ivy got thick. His skin was just clearing up after a major brush with the toxic sap earlier. Did I mention he’s allergic to the stuff? He noted that this year the poisonous plant is worse than he’s ever seen it.
There are 2 kinds of poison ivy, Eastern and Western. In Minnesota we have both! They also intermingle… Very basically, the western poison ivy is more shrub like while the eastern is more vine like.
Western poison ivy is a smallish, nonclimbing shrub usually about knee high, with a single stem and only a few stubby branches or no branches at all. It always has 3 leaves. The sap carries the toxin. If any portion of the plant is bruised or broken, the poison may exude onto the surface, which is how people typically come in contact with it. It is initially a clear liquid, but it turns into a black gummy substance in a few hours and can remain toxic for an indefinite period, reportedly for several hundred years. While it’s not catchy if you touch the rash, the toxin can be carried on the fur of an animal or clothing.
Click on this LINK for maps of what states have which kind! Heads up Wisconsin – you have poison sumac too!
Rash Help from Poison-ivy.org. The above photo is from the same website. You’ll find a LOT of information there.
The smoke of poison ivy burning is dangerous to inhale. Click HERE for plant control
The plant is often mixed up with other 3-leafed plants including Virginia Creeper, woodbine and fragrant sumac. While my chainsaw wielding friend recovered, as a boy he had no issue with poison ivy but as an adult he must take extra precautions and was on prednisone for over a week due to the toxic plant. Poison Ivy is found in just about any type of soil and sun/shade conditions.