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Ouch! Poison Ivy

Posted: July 12, 2013

Extreme itching, blisters and swelling are familiar to those who are allergic to poison ivy...
  • Late spring or June when the leaflets are fully expanded but before the small green flowers appear is the perfect time to get rid of poison ivy. Suspect any plant that has three leaves. The leaves can be smooth, toothed, or lobed. Poison ivy can present itself as an erect shrub or a trailing vine that can grow along the ground, or on trees, fences and other structures.
  • Urushiol is the toxic oil that is present in all parts of the plant and can be carried on clothing, tools, and pets. This oil retains its toxicity for long periods. When working with poison ivy, protect yourself from the urushiol by completely covering with clothing, including long-sleeved shirts tucked into gloves and long pants tucked into socks and shoes. Wash all clothing and shower yourself with soap and cool water immediately afterwards. All tools must be cleaned as well.
  • Hand pulling is only effective on seedlings or small plants when soil is moist. Larger plants can be cut down to a just few leaves and stems and then treated with glyphosates. Most likely one treatment will not be enough. Use with caution in your garden since glyphosates will kill growing plants. NEVER BURN poison ivy since the smoke can easily be inhaled.
  • Finally consult your doctor.

Peg Jones, Penn State Master Gardener