All I can think about is scratching my left arm. Unfortunately, I have poison ivy. If you have had it, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you have never had it, be grateful. It’s a never-ending itch. Thankfully, it’s not severe enough for a visit to the doctor. I am treating it with over the counter medication, but I will continue seeking advice (and pity) from friends and family on the best remedies.
One of my favorite master gardener activities is leading youth through a nature trail and pointing out poison ivy. We identify the pesky plant and repeat the phrase, “Leaves of three, let it be.” I tell them that 2/3 of the population is allergic, therefore we should all assume we are allergic. Poison ivy is easily spread, as deer and birds love to eat the berries. Of course, the berry seeds are then “pooped” out all over, which is one way the plant is spread. The kids love that part of the lesson, but respond with a resounding “ewwhhh.”
If you have poison ivy in your yard, you should definitely take steps to remove it. Protect yourself by wearing long pants, a long sleeve shirt and gloves. Do not burn poison ivy because the smoke will cause the same symptoms. Hand pulling is very effective but be extra careful if you are allergic. Most recommend spraying with a herbicide labeled for poison ivy.
As gardeners, we enjoy being out in nature. Let me encourage you to be careful and look out for the plant with three leaves. It will leave you scratching…