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August 19, 2018

Experts address myths about poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac

Experts address myths about poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac

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With summer temperatures luring us outdoors, scientists with the Weed Science Society of America say it’s a great time for refresher course on poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac. All three thrive during summer months and are known to trigger highly irritating skin rashes that can last for many days.

“When you look at the thousands of people exposed each year and at the misery a rash can produce, poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac certainly rank among the most notorious weeds in the nation,” says Lee Van Wychen, Ph.D., WSSA science policy director.

All three belong to the Toxicodendron genus and produce irritating urushiol oils. When urushiol comes in contact with the skin of sensitive individuals, itching and watery blisters will follow.

Poison oak and poison ivy in particular are common fixtures in many outdoor landscapes, often tucked among other native vegetation and growing as either a low shrub or trailing vine. Both produce small, whitish green flowers in the spring, followed by small berries in the summer. Birds enjoy the seeds and help to spread the weeds into new areas.

Poison sumac is rarer, and tends to be found primarily in wetlands. This characteristic is one of several differences among the three weed species and where they are found.

Poison oak grows as a low shrub in eastern and southern states and in tall clumps or long vines on the Pacific Coast. Fuzzy green leaves grow in clusters of three. It may have yellow or green flowers and clusters of green-yellow or white berries.

Poison ivy is found nationwide, with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii and some portions of the western coastline. Each leaf includes three glossy leaflets that vary in color (and sometimes shape) throughout the year—red in spring, green in summer and yellow, orange or red in the fall. It can grow as a shrub or as hairy, ropelike vines sometimes seen growing up the sides of trees.

Poison sumac grows as a woody shrub or small tree primarily in the eastern half of the U.S. Leaves feature multiple pairs of leaflets that have a smooth, velvet-like texture. Flowers and fruit are similar to those produced by poison oak or poison ivy, but hang in loose clusters.

Misinformation about poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac abounds, making it important to separate fact from fiction.

Fiction—Only the leaves are toxic.

Fact—All parts of the plants can trigger an allergic response, including the leaves, roots, flowers, berries, stems and vines.

Fiction—The painful rash can be spread through watery fluid found in blisters.

Fact—Only exposure to the oily toxin urushiol will trigger a reaction—not the fluid in blisters. Rashes often emerge over a series of days, though, which can make it seem as though they are spreading as blisters ooze.

Fiction—If you don’t touch the plants directly, you’re in the clear.

Fact—Toxic oils can linger on clothes, gardening gloves, tools, shoes and even pet fur—producing a skin rash just as if you touched the plant yourself. Wash your tools, clothing and pets regularly, especially after an exposure. The oils can remain potent for months and even years.

Fiction—You can dispose of poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac just as you would any other weed.

Fact—It is important to take great care in disposing of plants that you pull, mow or dig. You don’t want yourself or others to be exposed to oily toxins that remain. Be especially careful to never use burning as a disposal strategy. Inhaling the smoke can cause a whole-body reaction.

Fiction—There is nothing I can do to avoid a rash if I’ve touched poison oak, poison ivy or poison sumac.

Fact—You may be able to avoid a rash or reduce its severity by pouring rubbing alcohol over the exposed area as soon as possible and washing with running water. Clinical tests show that dishwashing detergent is also effective at removing the rash-causing urushiol toxin.

Fiction—Some people are simply immune to urushiol-induced rashes.

Fact—While it is true some individuals are not bothered by a rash, sensitivity to urushiol can develop at any time. Once you’ve had a rash, you can become more sensitive and have a stronger allergic response the next time you are exposed.

“Prevention is paramount when it comes to poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac,” Van Wychen says. “If you plan to work or play in an area where it may be growing, wear protective clothing, including long sleeves and long pants tucked into your boots or hiking shoes. Being a bit warm may be a better alternative than days of suffering from a painful rash.”

For more information about poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac, visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/plants.

The Weed Science Society of America, a nonprofit scientific society, was founded in 1956 to encourage and promote the development of knowledge concerning weeds and their impact on the environment. The Society promotes research, education and extension outreach activities related to weeds, provides science-based information to the public and policy makers, fosters awareness of weeds and their impact on managed and natural ecosystems, and promotes cooperation among weed science organizations across the nation and around the world. For more information, visit www.wssa.net.

Sidebar:

Managing poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac

Today there are several options for control—and more may be on the horizon.

Chemical treatment

One of the most effective is the use of herbicides. Two or more treatments may be needed, though, as the plants are very persistent. Spray spreading vines with products containing glyphosate, dicamba, 2,4-D or triclopyr, using tank mixtures of these products when possible.

When poison oak or poison ivy grows as a climbing vine, the same products can be used as a “cut stump” treatment. Cut the stem a few inches above ground and treat the stump with your herbicide to keep it from resprouting. Remember to always read and follow label directions before buying or using these products.

Mechanical treatment

If the weeds are growing in an open and accessible location, mowing is a possibility. Mow repeatedly throughout the growing season, though, or the rootstock will simply sprout new plants.

You can hand-pull or dig the plants, but you run the risk of exposure. In addition, any root stalks missed are likely to sprout again. Don’t burn the plants you’ve removed. Toxic oils can be spread by smoke and cause a full-body reaction. You’ll need to bury the plants in a safe spot.

Possible future treatment alternative—biocontrol

Researchers at Virginia Tech University are exploring whether poison ivy can be controlled by a naturally occurring fungus (Colletotrichum fioriniae). High concentrations have been used to kill seedlings in the lab. Further research is underway to determine whether the fungus can be applied in granular form to control poison ivy in the wild, without impacting surrounding plants.

Date: 7/21/2014




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See the article here – 

Experts address myths about poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac

Common Myths About Poison Oak, Poison Ivy and Poison Sumac: WSSA Experts Separate Fact From Fiction

Lawrence, Kansas (PRWEB) July 02, 2014

With summer temperatures luring us outdoors, scientists with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) say it’s a great time for refresher course on poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac. All three thrive during summer months and are known to trigger highly irritating skin rashes that can last for many days.

“When you look at the thousands of people exposed each year and at the misery a rash can produce, poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac certainly rank among the most notorious weeds in the nation,” says Lee Van Wychen, Ph.D., WSSA science policy director.

All three belong to the Toxicodendron genus and produce irritating urushiol oils. When urushiol comes in contact with the skin of sensitive individuals, itching and watery blisters will follow.

Poison oak and poison ivy in particular are common fixtures in many outdoor landscapes, often tucked among other native vegetation and growing as either a low shrub or trailing vine. Both produce small, whitish green flowers in the spring, followed by small berries in the summer. Birds enjoy the seeds and help to spread the weeds into new areas.

Poison sumac is rarer, and tends to be found primarily in wetlands. This characteristic is one of several differences among the three weed species and where they are found.

Poison oak grows as a low shrub in eastern and southern states and in tall clumps or long vines on the Pacific Coast. Fuzzy green leaves grow in clusters of three. It may have yellow or green flowers and clusters of green-yellow or white berries.

Poison ivy is found nationwide, with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii and some portions of the western coastline. Each leaf includes three glossy leaflets that vary in color (and sometimes shape) throughout the year – red in spring, green in summer and yellow, orange or red in the fall. It can grow as a shrub or as hairy, ropelike vines sometimes seen growing up the sides of trees.

Poison sumac grows as a woody shrub or small tree primarily in the eastern half of the U.S. Leaves feature multiple pairs of leaflets that have a smooth, velvet-like texture. Flowers and fruit are similar to those produced by poison oak or poison ivy, but hang in loose clusters.

Misinformation about poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac abounds, making it important to separate fact from fiction.

Fiction: Only the leaves are toxic. Fact: All parts of the plants can trigger an allergic response, including the leaves, roots, flowers, berries, stems and vines.

Fiction: The painful rash can be spread through watery fluid found in blisters. Fact: Only exposure to the oily toxin urushiol will trigger a reaction – not the fluid in blisters. Rashes often emerge over a series of days, though, which can make it seem as though they are spreading as blisters ooze.

Fiction: If you don’t touch the plants directly, you’re in the clear. Fact: Toxic oils can linger on clothes, gardening gloves, tools, shoes and even pet fur – producing a skin rash just as if you touched the plant yourself. Wash your tools, clothing and pets regularly, especially after an exposure. The oils can remain potent for months and even years.

Fiction: You can dispose of poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac just as you would any other weed. Fact: It is important to take great care in disposing of plants that you pull, mow or dig. You don’t want yourself or others to be exposed to oily toxins that remain. Be especially careful to never use burning as a disposal strategy. Inhaling the smoke can cause a whole-body reaction.

Fiction: There is nothing I can do to avoid a rash if I’ve touched poison oak, poison ivy or poison sumac. Fact: You may be able to avoid a rash or reduce its severity by pouring rubbing alcohol over the exposed area as soon as possible and washing with running water. Clinical tests show that dishwashing detergent is also effective at removing the rash-causing urushiol toxin.

Fiction: Some people are simply immune to urushiol-induced rashes. Fact: While it is true some individuals are not bothered by a rash, sensitivity to urushiol can develop at any time. Once you’ve had a rash, you can become more sensitive and have a stronger allergic response the next time you are exposed.

“Prevention is paramount when it comes to poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac,” Van Wychen says. “If you plan to work or play in an area where it may be growing, wear protective clothing, including long sleeves and long pants tucked into your boots or hiking shoes. Being a bit warm may be a better alternative than days of suffering from a painful rash.”

For more information about poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac, visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/plants.

About the Weed Science Society of America

The Weed Science Society of America, a nonprofit scientific society, was founded in 1956 to encourage and promote the development of knowledge concerning weeds and their impact on the environment. The Society promotes research, education and extension outreach activities related to weeds, provides science-based information to the public and policy makers, fosters awareness of weeds and their impact on managed and natural ecosystems, and promotes cooperation among weed science organizations across the nation and around the world. For more information, visit http://www.wssa.net.

Sidebar:

Managing poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac

Today there are several options for control – and more may be on the horizon.

Chemical Treatment

One of the most effective is the use of herbicides. Two or more treatments may be needed, though, as the plants are very persistent. Spray spreading vines with products containing glyphosate, dicamba, 2,4-D or triclopyr, using tank mixtures of these products when possible.

When poison oak or poison ivy grows as a climbing vine, the same products can be used as a “cut stump” treatment. Cut the stem a few inches above ground and treat the stump with your herbicide to keep it from resprouting. Remember to always read and follow label directions before buying or using these products.

Mechanical Treatment

If the weeds are growing in an open and accessible location, mowing is a possibility. Mow repeatedly throughout the growing season, though, or the rootstock will simply sprout new plants.

You can hand-pull or dig the plants, but you run the risk of exposure. In addition, any root stalks missed are likely to sprout again. Don’t burn the plants you’ve removed. Toxic oils can be spread by smoke and cause a full-body reaction. You’ll need to bury the plants in a safe spot.

Possible Future Treatment Alternative: Biocontrol

Researchers at Virginia Tech University are exploring whether poison ivy can be controlled by a naturally occurring fungus (Colletotrichum fioriniae). High concentrations have been used to kill seedlings in the lab. Further research is underway to determine whether the fungus can be applied in granular form to control poison ivy in the wild, without impacting surrounding plants.


Read this article:

Common Myths About Poison Oak, Poison Ivy and Poison Sumac: WSSA Experts Separate Fact From Fiction

Gloucester County Nature: 'You're gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion – poison ivy'


Gloucester County Nature Logo



By Karl Anderson

for the Gloucester County Nature Club

Have you just finished spring cleaning your garden? Forgot to wear gloves? And now you have patches of an itchy rash and tiny blisters on your hands and arms?

Hmmm. Maybe you also forgot to notice the smooth stems and tiny, shiny newly-unfolding three-parted leaves of poison ivy.

Too bad; not much you can do about it. There are over-the counter remedies that will dry up the blisters and tone down the itch. Really serious cases can be treated with steroids. Cool compresses can help.

But in any case, the rash will clear up in a week or two, it’s not contagious, and it won’t spread from the area of origin.

Poison ivy grows from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Atlantic Coast to Texas. It is common everywhere in New Jersey, except in the Pine Barrens, where it generally grows only on the disturbed soils around home and industrial sites.

It can grow as a ground cover about a foot high, a vine, and even as a shrub. As a vine, it gets quite large, with stems several inches in diameter that cling to the bark of a tree with hundreds of short rootlets. So if you see a big hairy-looking vine climbing a tree, that’s poison ivy.

“Leaves of three, let it be” is a wise maxim for those who want to identify the plant. The individual leaves are two to four inches long, and they grow in groups of three.

The central leaflet is usually quite symmetrical; that is, the halves of the leaf on either side of the midrib are identical. The lateral two leaflets are most often asymmetrical, wider on one side of the midrib than the other.

All of the leaves may have a few shallow blunt lobes. The species most commonly confused with poison ivy are Virginia creeper (which has leaflets in groups of five) and some of the low-growing blackberries (leaves have lots of small sharp teeth, and the stems are thorny or bristly.)

The flowers of poison ivy are small, green, and grow in small clusters beneath the leaves. The fruits are small white berries.

The chemical that causes the allergic reaction to poison ivy is called uroshiol, and it does not affect everybody. This substance is also present in poison oak and poison sumac, two much less common local plants.

Poison oak looks much like poison ivy, but its leaves are more deeply lobed and it grows only as a ground cover, not a vine.

Poison sumac is a small wetland tree with compound leaves, which gives it a slight resemblance to the harmless staghorn, smooth, and shining sumacs.

Those three species have flowers and fruits that form large clusters at the ends of branches but poison sumac flowers and fruit are similar to those of poison ivy.

For information about the Gloucester County Nature Club, see gcnatureclub.org/.

Credit: 

Gloucester County Nature: 'You're gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion – poison ivy'

You don’t want to itch for spring – poison ivy is lurking

You don’t want to itch for spring – poison ivy is lurking

With spring will come green plants, some of which give humans contact dermatitis or irritated skin.

There are three main offenders to watch for locally: western poison ivy, nettles and wild parsnip, said Randy Schindle, private land specialist with the Department of Natural Resources.

All three irritate in different ways, he added.

“Poison ivy has a chemical in it; more an allergic reaction,” Schindle said.

It gives a person water blisters and severe itching, but there’s a simple cure.

“Soap and water takes care of it,” Schindle said. “Get to soap as quick as you can.”

Touching poison ivy isn’t the only danger. If you’re trying to get rid of it with fire, watch out.

“Breathe it in when it’s burning and you’ll get a reaction in the lungs,” Schindle said. “Not a good thing.”

poison ivy
You don’t want to itch for spring – poison ivy is lurking

Poison ivy is a low vine with three leaves that are usually glossy and turn red in the fall. The berries are white/light green and are eaten by birds. Other than feeding the birds, Schindle didn’t know of any other purpose it serves, but said it was a native plant.

Nettles are also native. Look for a wood stem covered with leaves that have serrated edges, and “a greenish-white spike of flowers on top,” Schindle said.

“It gets pretty tall,” he added. “I’ve seen it over six feet.”

Both kinds of nettles – stinging nettle and wood nettle – have “little hairs” that inject histamine and other chemicals, he said.

“It just burns more than anything,” Schindle said of the reaction. It doesn’t cause water blisters, but the skin might get red.

Ironically, it doesn’t burn indiscriminately.

“It only burns where you don’t have fingerprints,” Schindle said. “You can actually touch it with the pads of your fingers, but [if you touch it] with the backs of your fingers, it’ll burn you.”

poison ivy
You don’t want to itch for spring – poison ivy is lurking

The chemicals don’t stand up to boiling water.

“Drop it in boiling water and you have instant spinach,” Schindle said. “I’ve eaten them and they’re quite good.”

Schindle said nettles might be found in health food stores, but he wasn’t sure what it is used for.

Although nettles might made a good substitute for your salad, you don’t want to mistake wild parsnip – and Schindle said it’s easy to do.

“Wild parsnip is in the dill or carrot family,” he said. It’s a wild form of domestic parsnip and looks similar to dill or Golden Alexander, which are beneficial, while wild parsnip is dangerous.

“It will cause very severe blistering and burning,” Schindle said.

Make sure you take note of where wild parsnip grows, because whether you react to it or not depends on when you encounter it.

“Wild parsnip has a photo-chemical reaction that reacts with sunshine,” Schindle said. “If you’re out in the dark, you’re fine.”

Wild parsnip can be a big plant, growing to 6 feet, he said. It has bigger seed than its look-a-likes, and the leaves are different.

Unlike poison ivy and nettles, wild parsnip is not native.

poison ivy
You don’t want to itch for spring – poison ivy is lurking

“It’s a very invasive plant,” Schindle warned.

People can help keep it from spreading by being careful when they mow, particularly road ditches.

“It’s biennial, like carrots,” Schindle said.

Biennials die after two years. The first year, wild parsnip will just get leaves. The second year, it will bloom, go to seed and die. When they are mowed while in seed, it spreads the seeds and allows the plants to proliferate.

It’s best to get rid of it before it goes to seed, Schindle said.

“Mow them just when they’re starting to bloom,” he said.

Another way to get rid of all three is herbicide, but check the labels or ask the advice of a plant expert. Schindle said nettles can be pulled by hand, but you must wear gloves.

“Just be sure of your ID before you decide to control them,” Schindle warned. “You might be controlling a beneficial plant.”

poison ivy

You don’t want to itch for spring – poison ivy is lurking | You don’t want to itch for spring – poison ivy is lurking
You don’t want to itch for spring – poison ivy is lurking | You don’t want to itch for spring – poison ivy is lurking

You don’t want to itch for spring – poison ivy is lurking

You don’t want to itch for spring – poison ivy is lurking

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