Identifying and Dealing with Poison Ivy

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 22, 2023)

Poison ivy typically comes in two different varieties, the kind that climbs (known as Toxicodendron Radicans) and the kind that does not (known as Toxicodendron Rydbergii). These pesky plants can be found in almost every part of the United States, and if not identified and dealt with early can lead to some serious problems. Begin identifying and dealing with poison ivy by following these simple guidelines. This way, you can avoid a troubling rash at best, and a potentially dangerous situation at worst.

  • General appearance. In the most general terms, poison ivy is plant that has rather shiny green leaves. Not only does the plant have three leaves, but these leaves grow in clumps of threes as well. The edges of these leaves do not have a specific appearance, and can be either jagged or smooth. Typically, the newer that the leaf is the shiner it will be. Poison ivy can also be found just about anywhere, though it does really love to grow in disturbed soil, such as what is found along a roadside. However, poison ivy can also be found in other locations as well. Since this is an ivy, it is entirely possible that you can find it growing up alongside a tree or a building just like English ivy.
  • Seasonal appearance. Throughout the year, poison ivy will change its coloring. When it first starts to come in, during the spring time, the leaves will be a dull to bright red color. In the summer time, the plant will look almost like other kinds of ivy plants and have a bright green appearance. This is the time when you need to pay the closest attention to the number of leaves, and how they are growing. During the fall, the leaves will have a strange mixture of red and green, giving the plant an almost yellowish orange look. Typically the valleys of the leaves will be green, while the ridges have a red color that slowly spreads down to the valley. In the winter time the ivy does not have any leaves, and will simply look like a dead or dormant vine.
  • Getting rid of the ivy. Since poison ivy can cause an allergic reaction to almost everyone, getting rid of the ivy can be a little difficult. The easiest method would be to use some herbicides to kill the plant. After application of the herbicide and the plant dies, the plant will still be toxic, so be careful. Another method that you can use is to pull the plant out by the roots. If you use this method though, make sure that you have as much of your skin covered as possible. The absolute best way to deal with an infestation of poison ivy is to get a goat. Believe it or not, goats can actually eat the poison ivy and will not suffer any consequences. Always dispose of the ivy properly. Do not, under any circumstances, burn poison ivy since this can lead to a development of the rash on your lungs.
  • When is a problem too big? If you ever find yourself faced with an infestation of poison ivy that is the same size of a regular ivy bush, it is too big to handle yourself. Frankly, if you have poison ivy growing on your property, and it looks like some quaint old English ivy, it is time to call the professionals. That type of infestation is simply too big for most people to handle.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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