About the program:
We are a multi-campus, award winning, hands-on program. We focus on preparing students to enter the job force as competent, knowledgeable professionals.
The horticulture department at Chattahoochee Technical College is currently ranked number one at the international horticulture competition, PLANET's Student Career Days; an annual competition that tests the skills of top students from over 65 colleges and universities across the United States, Canada, and England.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The Landscaper's Bane: Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy: the mortal enemy of green thumbs everywhere. Every landscaper, gardener, dude who’s weedeated in shorts, and kid who’s played in the woods has inevitably encountered poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans. And boy they knew about it!
Interesting facts you may, or may not know:
You grew up hearing your mother say ‘leaves of three, let it be!’ She was mostly right! Poison ivy always has a compound leaf with 3 leaflets, though other plants also have this leaf arrangement.
It spreads by reseeding- birds love the berries so they are carried far and wide, by creeping roots, and vines that put down roots as they grow.
It can be a creeping or climbing vine or a shrub.
It has oil that causes the rash when you contact the leaves, and if you encounter the roots or cut the stem, you’re in a heap o’ trouble cause that releases a crap-ton of oil.
Some people say they’re immune… they just haven’t gotten it yet. I do admit that there are, obviously, varying degrees of susceptibility.
If the oil stays on your skin for longer than a half hour, you’re doomed.
The oil on surfaces such as your gloves, clothes, or garden tools can be just as potent years later as if you’d just touched it.
You can get it in the winter even though it doesn’t’ have leaves.
If you burn poison ivy and inhale the smoke… well, I’ll send flowers. (It can be fatal in severe cases but it’s likely you’ll survive with some severe lung irritation and an ER visit.)
If you come in contact with poison ivy, wash in cold water with a dish soap to remove the oil. Warm water will open your pores and allow the oil to penetrate... not good.
No creatures besides humans suffer from the rash from poison ivy.
A similar plant to poison ivy is poison oak. I grew up with my mother telling me that 5 leaves was poison oak. What she thought was poison oak was really Virginia Creeper- Parthenocissus quinquifolia, bottom photo, which is completely harmless (See update below). Poison oak is Toxicodendron pubescens, top photo. and looks nearly identical to poison ivy, but does not climb and grows only in shrub form. It also has more deeply lobed leaves.
What to do when you get the rash from poison ivy or oak:
If it is severe or on your face seek medical attention.
There are several prescription or over the counter topical creams to aid the healing.
Don’t pop the blisters. The juice won’t make it spread, but it’s gross. It could also get infected.
Hot showers can ease the itching for several hours… it also feels instantly better. Run the water as hot as you can stand it and let it run over the rash, it burns, but at least it isn’t itching!
Go to the beach. That salt water does amazing things… rubbing alcohol also dries it up pretty well.
Well, there you go: some interesting tidbits on your favorite plant to hate, poison ivy.
Oh, wait. How do you get rid of poison ivy growing in your yard? See below.
Seriously though, several applications of a non-selective or a broad-leaf weed killer should do the trick.
UPDATE: Thanks to the heads up from a reader I've done some research and it appears that while Virginia Creeper doesn't have the rash-inducing oil on its leaves like poison ivy, it is fairly common for people to have a severe allergy to it. So, pull Virgina Creeper with caution. I've never gotten this rash, but apparently it happens.
Jessica Watters, GCLP Horticulture Technician, Chattahoochee Technical College