I had a recent poison ivy scare, one which thankfully ended up with me not having oozing, fiercely itchy blistery rashes. It was so scary for several hours though, knowing that my hand could erupt into something only the devil could have conceived. In my paranoia, I learned a lot of new factoids about the ivy which they call poison.
Firstly, I have to state that I had a traumatic childhood experience with poison ivy. I had to go to the doctor and everything. Luckily I can say that it was my sole rumble with the wicked ivy, and I hope it is the only experience I will have with the plant in my lifetime.
I am miserable at identifying any poisonous plant. I’ve always heard “leaves of three, let it be” but then I tend to think of any three-leaved chlorophyll producer as being toxic. This is not the case. So my intense Google Image searches have taught me that poison ivy has notches on its leaves. Good to know.
Poison oak is not prevalent in the southern United States; it is out there terrorizing the Left Coast. Whew, one less wicked tree to worry about.
Southerners are not totally out of the woods (ha!) since there is always the delightful poison sumac to consider. However, I will leave sumac for the time I have a poison sumac scare.
Poison ivy can come in vine form; it isn’t just a ground cover-type plant. The vines are hairy and resemble massive centipedes.
You can’t just burn it and forget about it since the ivy can cause misery if inhaled. Scary.
Some lucky individuals are immune, but immunity can be lost over time.
If you think you’ve danced with the poisonous plant, the best thing you can do is wash with lots and lots of soap immediately. I’ve read to use hot water and to use cold water, so I don’t know what’s best.
Don’t fret. If your pal has it, you can’t get it as poison ivy rashes are not contagious.
The actual agent causing all the skin grief is called urushiol. The name “urushiol” comes from the Japanese word for a type of lacquer made from the lacquer tree. Interestingly, urushiol is found in mangoes, cashews, and gingko.