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June 22, 2018

Angie's List: Removing Poison Ivy, Sumac or Oak Plants

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

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,” says Branham)

The key to avoiding a rash like Shirley’s — 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. And poison sumac grows in swampy areas of the Southeast.

Horticulturist Emily Wood 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. Angie’s List researchers found 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.

“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,” says Wood.

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 lawnmower to get rid of them — you’ll just distribute the oil.

Original article:  

Angie's List: Removing Poison Ivy, Sumac or Oak Plants

Angie's List: Removing Poison Ivy, Sumac or Oak Plants

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

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,” says Branham)

The key to avoiding a rash like Shirley’s — 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. And poison sumac grows in swampy areas of the Southeast.

Horticulturist Emily Wood 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. Angie’s List researchers found 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.

“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,” says Wood.

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 lawnmower to get rid of them — you’ll just distribute the oil.

See the original article here: 

Angie's List: Removing Poison Ivy, Sumac or Oak Plants

Leaves of poisonous plants cluster in threes

I’d had it with the tree monster taking over my driveway. It loomed larger every day and threatened to eat me and my car every time we pulled in. As my personal rainforest grew thicker and more menacing, so did my resolve to hack it back … some day.

Some day when I wasn’t dressed for work, or late for spin class or a social plan, when I wasn’t too tired and it wasn’t too dark, I would cut the tree monster back.

That day came last week. But the tree got the last word.

After a night of heavy rain, I bolted out of bed when I heard the trash truck approaching. As I haul the recycle bins from garage to curb, I must plow through the tree monster, now rain-soaked and bowing lower than usual. I get drenched.

That’s it. Because who knows where the yard clippers are, I grab my rose clippers (yes, I know I have told you to use these only for flowers) and engage in hand-to-hand combat with the tree monster.



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Still in my PJ pants and a tank top, I hack away, creating a large pile of plant remains. As I whack back, I notice I’m cutting through branches and vines intertwined. Some vines have clusters of three leaves.

Then — remember, this is all before I’ve had my coffee — I recall some little rhyme about leaves of three let them be. What if it’s….Could it be…..Poison ivy?

Too late now. I stuff the last of the plant debris into the second large trash bag. Back inside, I search my phone for what to do if exposed to poison ivy or oak. As a precaution, I follow the instructions to the T: Immediately douse exposed area with rubbing alcohol, rinse with water, shower with soap.

Reactions, I read, usually show up 12 to 48 hours later.

Pretty sure I’ve overreacted, I forget all about it. Until … 30 hours later, bumps appear on my right inner arm and inside left elbow. The rash looks like measles, and soon blossoms into itchy blisters.

“I have leprosy,” I tell Katie McCoy Dubrow, a publicist for Garden Media Group, who said, the same thing happened to her last summer. She, too, got poison ivy for the first time, while clearing out some underbrush at her new home outside Philadelphia.

“You were lucky you acted fast,” she said. “I got it from head to toe.” This was a small comfort. She works in the garden industry and knows better.

“I thought I was immune,” said Dubrow. “Did I think some of the plants might be poison ivy? Yes. Did I worry about it? No.”

She had to see her doctor, who prescribed steroids.

I now had no room to complain about my two little rash patches, which wouldn’t cover a post card.

But to spare you, and me, in the future, I called R.J. Laverne, education manager for The Davey Tree Expert Company, in Kemp, Ohio, for some poison plant pointers.

“Summer is prime time for poisonous plants,” said Laverne. Just about every part of the country has at least one type of toxic plant. Here’s how gardeners can spot and handle them, and what to do if exposed:

•Know the enemy. Poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak are all relatives, said Laverne. All exude the same oily substance called urushiol, which causes a rash, blisters and itching in most humans, though not all, who come in contact.

•What to look for. All are easy to spot, says Laverne. Poison ivy has three leaflets on short stalks. Leaf edges often have a notched edge. Poison ivy grows both as a ground cover or a climbing vine. You often find it along edges of woods or fence lines. It’s most common in the Southeast, the Midwest and as far north as Michigan. Poison oak grows in the Southeast and the West, but not much farther north than Kentucky. It’s a shrub, between one and three feet tall. It’s leaves also come in threes, but have deeper lobes so resemble red oak leaves. Sumac, the most toxic, is common in the East up to Canada. It grows as a shrub or small tree, with seven to 11 oval, deep green leaflets per stem.

•Wear a barrier. If you’re not sure whether these poisonous plants are in your yard, assume they are, and, when working outside, wear gloves, long-sleeves, long pants, a hat and closed shoes.

•If exposed, break out the alcohol. No, not to drink, to douse exposed areas. Hit exposed areas with rubbing alcohol fast, inside 30 minutes, if possible. Intervene before the oil binds with skin cells. Then rinse with clear water and shower (don’t bathe) using warm water and soap.

•Wash clothes and tools, too. Urushiol can stay on clothing, shoes, gloves and tools for years. Wash exposed clothing apart from other clothes. Hose off tools and shoes right away.

•Beware of dog. Though animals don’t react to poison plants like humans, Fido or Fifi can drag the oils into the house on their fur. If you pet them, you could get a reaction.

•Never burn. Don’t burn yard debris if you suspect any plants are toxic. Anyone who inhales the smoke could land in the hospital.

•Spray it away. To rid your yard of poison plants, spray the foliage with weed killer, such as Round-Up, and let the plants die, roots and all, said Laverne. (Don’t pull them out.) If you still want to remove the dead plant, wait until winter when the least amount of oil will be present.

•If you get a reaction. Try over-the-counter remedies such as Benadryl Calamine, or hydrocortisone ointments to relieve itching. (I liked Tri-Calm.) If that isn’t enough, see a doctor for something stronger. Then, said Laverne, who’s been in this boat dozens of times, “Grin and bear it for a week.”

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press).

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Leaves of poisonous plants cluster in threes

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