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January 18, 2018

Angie's List: Removing poison ivy, oak or sumac

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A weekend spent working in the yard can turn into an itchy, uncomfortable nightmare, if you don’t steer clear of poisonous plants.

It is important to be able to identify and remove poison ivy, oak or sumac.

Homeowner Shirley Branham loves tending to her yard and garden, but she can’t seem to escape the itchy wrath of poison ivy. Every summer, for the past ten years, she’s suffered through a horrible rash.

“I usually just noticed one or two little dots which eventually unfortunately then spread all the way up my arm or on my legs,” Shirley says.

The key to avoiding a rash like Shirley’s is knowing how to spot these poisonous plants.

Poison ivy grows in all areas of the continental US.

Poison oak is most common on the west coast, but it’s also found in southeastern states.

Poison sumac grows in swampy areas of the southeast.

Emily Wood, a horticulturist, says, “Poison oak and poison ivy look fairly similar, but poison sumac has much more leaflets, more leaves on the leaflet.”

Birds often feed on the berries of these plants and consequently spread the seeds, so look for the plants in areas where birds hang out , on or under trees or near fences.

The plants can grow to great lengths, so you may need help to get rid of them.

Many lawn care companies won’t go near these plants, but there are some that do specialize in removal.

Angie Hicks, from Angie’s List, says, “During the hiring process be sure to cover how the company is going to tackle the problem. Are they going to use chemicals to remove the plants? Are they going to dig the plants up? How long do they guarantee their work? Will they come back if the plant reappears? Also, don’t forget these plants like to spread so if the plant is in your neighbor’s yard you want to understand that problem as well.”

You may be able to tackle smaller plants on your own, but be sure to wear protective clothing and know how to properly dispose of the plants.

Wood says, “Most of the time it’s probably best to put it in a plastic bag and throw it away, but keep in mind, that anything that touches it will carry the oil and you can get the contact dermatitis from the oil.”

Now you have the right information, if you’re itching to get started.

All parts of these plants produce urushiol, the oil that causes the rash.

It can stay on clothing and garden tools for up to five years.

You should never burn these plants or use a weed eater or lawn mower to get rid of them; you’ll just distribute the oil.

How to identify Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac

• Where do these plants grow? Poison ivy grows in all areas of the continental U.S. Poison oak is most common on the West Coast, but it’s also found in Southeastern states and poison sumac grows in swampy areas of the Southeast.

• What do the plants look like?

Poison ivy: Has compound leaves with three leaflets that connect to a single stem. Young poison ivy leaves are light green and have serrated or toothed edges. Can grow as a vine or a shrub.

Poison sumac: Has nine to 13 leaflets per stem. The leaves are round with pointed tips. Grows as a shrub or small tree.

Poison oak: Has three leaflets that connect to a single stem. Its leaves resemble oak tree leaves. Grows as a vine or a shrub.

• Where could it be in my yard? Birds often feed on the berries of these plants and consequently spread the seeds, so look for the plants in areas where birds hang out – on or under trees or near fences.

How to remove these plants:

• Hire a pro: These plants can grow to great lengths, so you may need help to get rid of them. Angie’s List found some lawn care companies won’t go near the plants, but there are other companies who specialize solely in this type of removal. Ask questions before hiring such as: 1.) Will you use chemicals or dig out the plant? 2.) How long do you guarantee your work? 3.) What happens if the plant returns?

• DIY: You may be able to tackle smaller plants on your own, but be sure to wear protective clothing, clean garden tools, and know how to properly dispose the plants. Urushiol may remain active on clothing, garden tools and camping gear for up to 5 years, so it’s important to wash all items that come in contact with poison ivy. You should never burn the plants or use a weed eater or lawn mower to get rid of them – you’ll just distribute the oil.

Original article – 

Angie's List: Removing poison ivy, oak or sumac

Recent Weather Trends Making Poison Ivy Worse

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July 30, 2013

The wet summer is causing several weeds and vines to grow more quickly than normal, including poison ivy. And research suggests that climate change may be making the plants bigger and more toxic.

The Cogill family, from Charlottesville, was enjoying a nice walk on the Monticello Trail on Tuesday, when 9-year-old Ada saw some poison ivy and warned her brother.

“Sid was about to walk right through it,” Ada said. “So I pointed it out to him, ‘Sid there’s a patch of poison ivy that you’re about to walk through!'”

Ada’s had it before, so she knows why it is important to avoid.

“I hate being itchy like that,” Ada said. “And having to scratch it because it’s too itchy.”

Charlottesville’s trails planner, Chris Gensic, is noticing it more.

“It’s been a really good year for plants to grow,” Gensic said. “So we’re seeing the poison ivy growing a little faster than it normally does.”

At times, the poison ivy is right near the walking trail. Gensic pointed to several examples in Quarry Park and Riverview Park. Gensic says park officials focus on clearing it from trails and baseball fields, but they can’t get rid of all of it.

“There’s also whole areas where it could be in there and we’re not just going to chemical bomb the whole area,” Gensic said.

Scientists say climate change could be making it worse. A study from the National Academy of Sciences says poison ivy especially feasts on rising carbon dioxide, making it grow faster and more toxic.

“Best thing you can do is know what the plant is and avoid it,” Gensic said.

Ada’s 5-year-old brother, Sid, knows some rhymes that can help out with that.

“Leaves of three, let them be,” Sid said. “Hairy vine, no friend of mine.”

The plant is distinguished by its shiny leaves in a pattern of three, and a red, hairy vine that it uses to scale trees.

But it can also come in contact with humans through other ways, like pets.

“I definitely do see it this year a lot more,” said Sammy Swale, who runs Sammy’s Dogwalking Service in Charlottesville. He has to be careful that the pets don’t take the toxic poison ivy oils back to their owners.

“Dogs brushing up against it, playing in it, running in it, and just walking through it,” Swale said. “Then you put your hands and arms on it of course because the dog rubs up against you.”

Swale keeps the dogs away from trails to avoid coming into contact with poison ivy. He also protects himself by always wearing long pants.

“It’s very painful, and I don’t want it on my legs,” Swale said.

Read this article: 

Recent Weather Trends Making Poison Ivy Worse

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