In a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a six-year study on poison ivy was published. Findings suggest our planet could turn into a much itchier place!
Due to rising carbon dioxide levels, poison ivy abundance has also increased. Researchers at Duke University used a system of carbon dioxide-pumping pipes to test the impacts of CO2 on poison ivy. Findings included an alarming poison ivy growth surge of nearly 150 percent in carbon dioxide-rich forest plots near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The study also found poison ivy plants exposed to enriched supplies of carbon dioxide exhibited a stronger strain of urushiol. So poison ivy may be getting even more poisonous!
So what makes poison ivy so itchy?
Quite simply, direct contact with a poison ivy plant. Urushiol, a carbon-based active oil, causes an allergic reaction. The oil is found in poison ivy leaves, vines and roots. With contact of skin, urushiol creates a rather uncomfortable experience. About 80 percent of people are allergic to poison ivy’s sap or resin. Side-affects include redness, swelling, itching and/or blistering skin rashes.
How to identify a poison ivy plant:
Poison ivy leaves are compound with three pointed leaflets. Leaflet edges are mostly smooth or toothed. Leaf size varies greatly. The middle leaflet is usually much longer in comparison with the other two leaflets. When emerging in the spring, leaves are reddish then turn green throughout the summer and gradually turn various shades of yellow, orange or red in the autumn. Keep in mind, identification of poison ivy is sometimes difficult-above are a few general characteristics.
Poison ivy treatment:
Typically, poison ivy rashes disappear within one to three weeks. Over-the-counter self-care methods assist in relieving signs and symptoms. Also, if the rash is widespread or results in numerous blisters a doctor’s prescription may be needed. Here’s an excellent link from Mayo.
How do you get rid of it?
Through research, I have found poison ivy is very cumbersome to exterminate. Digging or ripping up is an option however, it is imperative to get every last bit of root structure to prevent regrowth. Mowing could be an option but it takes persistence and pay special attention to clippings. Another option is covering a poison ivy patch with black plastic until it dies then quickly planting another plant in place of the poison ivy to prevent regrowth. Lastly, call a County Extension Agent for further insight in how to rid of poison ivy disparities.