Getting rid of poison ivy
By Albert Mondorhorticulturist and biologist
Most people have no idea what poison ivy looks like. If you think you are struggling with this unwanted plant, before doing anything, read the following lines. These few tips will save you a lot of inconvenience.
Poison ivy is a little rascal since she often changes appearance, sometimes making it difficult to identify. It is most often erect and bushy but it can also adopt a creeping or climbing habit. Its glossy green leaves are composed of three pointed-tipped oval leaflets with slightly indented margins. In fact, its foliage is strangely reminiscent of that of the Giguère maple.
Poison ivy is found all over North America. She grows as well on the sand dunes near the sea what to the edge of forests on sandy soils. In our gardens, it sometimes grows at the foot of cedar (cedar) hedges. In this particular case, it is simply brought with the cedars when they are extracted from the fields where they grow.
How to get rid of poison ivy?
Pulling out is definitely the best way to get rid of poison ivy. When we extract it from the ground, we realize that this poisonous plant has long rhizomes which sometimes run over more than a meter in length. If you decide to remove poison ivy yourself, take care toput on a waterproof suit and long thick rubber gloves that you will throw in the garbage once the job is done.
Poison ivy contains an oily substance called urushiol which causes redness, blistering and swelling when the skin comes into contact with it. These symptoms usually appear 24 to 48 hours following contact and may persist for one to two weeks. However, symptoms may appear several days – up to two weeks – after coming into contact with poison ivy. Inflammation of the skin is due to the human body’s immune response to urushiol. It is therefore not possible to transmit dermatitis caused by poison ivy from one individual to another by touching the wounds, except within minutes of contact with the plant since the urushiol is still present on the surface of the skin.
A large number of animals and birds are completely insensitive to this plant because their immune system is different from that of humans. However, be vigilant since several cases have been reported where the people have become infected by petting the fur of their pets. On the other hand, if your clothes or tools have touched the plant, it is better to throw them in the garbage since urushiol can persist for a very long time on fabrics and wood.
If you believe you have come into contact with this plant, wash your skin quickly with cold water, but do not use soap. The cold water dilutes the sap and closes the pores of the skin, partially preventing the urushiol from entering and thus decreasing the severity of the symptoms. If blisters appear on your skin, the best thing to do is not to scratch yourself, apply calamine or aloe to soothe the inflamed area, and cover it with gauze. But rest assured, I myself have been affected by poison ivy and I can tell you that, although it is a rather unpleasant experience, we survive it quite well!
In closing, do not confuse poison ivy with ragweed, which causes respiratory allergies – violent sneezing, stuffy nose, itchy and watery eyes – to many Canadians. Although it affects hundreds of thousands of people each summer, it is rather surprising how little ragweed remains and how few people know how to identify it properly. But, unlike poison ivy, it’s safe to touch ragweed with your bare hands.
Highly variable in height (some plants are as little as 20 cm in height while others exceed 1 meter), this annual plant has characteristic soft green leaves that are finely cut. Its greenish-yellow flowers appear during the summer and are gathered in masses at the top of the stems.