Friday, May 25, 2018
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Amy Stone


Tips to help avoid poison ivy

Itchy oil; Push out the ivy; remedies


Kelly Heidbreder


Leaves of three, let it be. Words to live by if you are pulling weeds around your yard. It is a good chance that you have some poison ivy lurking around your landscape somewhere. So here are some things you don’t want to do if you find it.


Don’t run over poison ivy with your mower. It will spread it all around your yard. Don’t burn it. The smoke can cause severe damage in your lungs. Don’t forget to wash your clothes well if they have been exposed to poison ivy. The oil can stay on your fabric for days. Don’t forget to wash your skin thoroughly with soap and water to remove any oil on your skin if you are exposed. Quickly washing it off will stop the rash from forming. Don’t wear your shoes in the house if you have been working in poision ivy. The oil can cling to the bottom of your shoes.


Here’s a bit of good news. You can’t spread poison ivy by scratching the rash. It only spreads if the oil touches a new spot to irritate.


Itchy oil


Poison Ivy is related to the cashew. The leaves are red in the early spring, green in the summer, then turn orange and yellow in the fall. All parts of the plant contain a skin irritating oil call urushiol oil. The parasitic vine will grow on other trees or vegetation. If you look closely at the vine, it has tendrils that attach to the host plant and pulls its nutrition from the host plant. It produces itchy oil all year long, even in the dead of winter.


The urushiol oil can stay active on a surface for up to five years, even if the plant is dead. It is so strong that says a quarter ounce of this potent oil can make everyone on the globe itch.


Push out the P.I.


If you want to get rid of poison ivy without using chemicals, get ready for a long fight. Keep pulling it by hand and digging it out of they ground. Be sure you are covered while you working with it.


If you give up and want to hit it with a herbicide, look for triclopyr or glyphosate on the label. You will find it in products like Brush-B-Gone, Rodeos and Roundup. But these chemicals don’t discriminate between poison ivy and your favorite hydrangea bush. If you get some of that chemical on a plant that you love, you might have to dig it up and toss it on the compost pile in a month.


If the ivy is covering a tree or shrub, cut it down to the ground and get rid of as much of the root as you can. Spray the stump with herbicide and let the plant carry the systemic chemical through its system where it dies a slow death.


P.I. remedies


There are many ways people have treated their rash. I’ve been told rhubarb leaves rubbed on the affected area will help. Others swear by a cream made of toothpaste and baking powder rubbed on the skin will make it go away faster. Some give relief, others may not. If you are covered with rashy bumps or get in your mouth or lungs, you need to get to the emergency room.


What works for you? Post your remedies on my Facebook Fan page, Kelly Heidbreder 13abc, or send me an email at


Correction: Last week’s column about using tainted Toledo water for your garden, we quoted Jiyoung Lee, PhD, Associate Professor of Environmental Microbiology, at the Ohio State University. We incorrectly referred to her in one instance as Mr. Lee. We apologize for the error.


Contact Kelly Heidbreder at 

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