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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Avoiding that irritating ivy

Thursday, May 6, 2010

There are a few things that I can always expect to occur around this time of year.

I will want to spend time outside working with perennial plants, my family will start thinking about putting up hay in the coming months, and at least one person I know will end up with poison ivy on their arms and hands.

No one wants to end up coming in contact with poison ivy because of the painful, itchy side effect that soon follows. You do not have to touch poison ivy to end up having skin irritation. You can end up with skin irritation if you come into contact with smoke from burning poison ivy that has recently been cut or dried. If you do come into contact with poison ivy, you can try to prevent the irritation by applying some alcohol on the point of contact. Some of the irritation can be relieved by washing with strong alkali soap.

The best way to avoid the irritation is by learning how to properly identify poison ivy. There are two different forms of poison ivy found in Indiana. They include a low-growing shrub and a climbing vine. Aerial rootlets allow the vine to attach to other items, including your fence, trees, house or other tall items around your property.

Poison ivy leaves are compound with three leaflets attached to the petiole. The leaves have smooth, scalloped, or irregular toothed margins. Poison ivy may have leaves that appear to be oily and contain greenish-white berries that grow in clusters.

There are a number of vine plants which poison ivy is often confused with. Some of those include: Fragrant sumac and Virginia Creeper. Fragrant sumac does have three leaflets but is different from poison ivy. The main difference is that the fruit and leaves of fragrant sumac will be hairy. Virginia Creeper, on the other hand, has five leaflets. Neither, fragrant sumac or Virginia Creeper contains a toxic substance that irritates the skin like found in poison ivy.

Once you have learned to identify poison ivy, then you need to learn how to control it. One method is to repeatedly cut the plant back to the ground in an attempt to starve it.

If the plant is small, you can try to dig it up and discard it. When digging it out, try to get every last part of the root system since any part that is left will allow the plant to resprout. When doing either of those methods, you stand a chance to come in contact with the poison ivy and end up with the irritation.

Using herbicides to control poison ivy is one potential method. When doing this, only let the herbicide touch the poison ivy because there is always potential for a desirable plant to die if it comes in contact with the herbicide. It is suggested that, if possible, when applying the herbicide, try to cut a small segment of the poison ivy and apply the herbicide directly to the open wound. When choosing an herbicide, look for one that contains amino tiazole, glyphosate, or dicamba.

Make sure before using any herbicide you pay close attention to the label.

You should follow all directions on the label on how to dress when handling the herbicide, application method, and all safety instructions.

It is a horrible feeling to know that you have spent the whole day outside working in your yard and then realize you made the mistake to come in contact with poison ivy.

Some individuals seem to be lucky and never are irritated by poison ivy, but it is still a good idea to learn how to properly identify and control poison ivy. When controlling it, please cover up so that you do not end up being irritated by the poison ivy and follow all herbicide label instructions.

As always, Purdue Extension is available to offer a variety of opportunities and knowledge to farmers, homeowners, and business people alike concerning agriculture, horticulture or natural resources. If you would like to contact your local Purdue Extension Office, call 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly via e-mail at smith535@purdue.edu.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* May 12 -- 4-H photography workshop, 7-8 p.m., Clay County Extension Office. Call 448-9041 to reserve a spot,

* May 13 -- Poultry program, 6:30 p.m., Owen County Extension Office,

* May 14 -- Area Share-the-Fun contest, Edgewood High School,

* May 15 -- Livestock enrollment forms due to Clay County Extension Office, and

* May 15 -- Livestock enrollment forms due to Owen County Extension Office.