Tis the season for poison ivy to run rampant. If you are not sure what this weed looks like, take a look at this picture. Even the National Arboretum in Washington DC has it as a plant specimen.
Poison ivy can be “gotten” from touching the leaf or the vine in the dead of winter. I leaned against a tree with a vine pre-exam week in December at U of R and looked like a leper for 2 weeks. You can also get a nasty case of it by getting downwind when it is burned with leaves. I remember my beautiful sister looking like something out of Star Trek one autumn after standing downwind of an open fire. Don’t underestimate its reach!
The growth habit of poison ivy is tricky. Here are the highlights.
- It spreads by tenacious runners underground.
- If you try to pull it, you usually leave a tendril or two so it comes back with more vigor.
- Spraying it with round up repeatedly is the best solution.
- In an evolutionary jump for a plant’s reproduction, poison ivy flowers then fruits.
- Birds eat the fruit ingesting the seeds.
- Birds poop out the seed.
- New plants are borne by the bird droppings, instead of on wind like maple trees.
When you repeatedly get poison ivy, the rash seems to lessen with each incident. For me after the third day it is usually drying up. Of course that is after the first 2 days of itch and ooze. In severe cases, the doctor has recommended steroids and prescription cream. Many of our legal Hispanic workers can go in and pull it with their bare hands with no repercussions. Go figure.
If you think you have touched some poison ivy, wash the area immediately with soap and water. Throw your clothes that you have been wearing in the laundry, and cross yourself.