Let it be!
Most of you probably are familiar with this garden scourge . . . but some of you might not be. This, my friends, is poison ivy.*
Ugh. I hates the poison ivy. And, unfortunately, I find it in my garden all the time. I went on a fairly extensive "search and destroy" mission over the weekend - with good success. (And by that, I mean no rash.)
Inspired by my gardening mission, and being a creature of habit, I decided to bring you my own** Ten on Tuesday today - Ten Facts/Stories About Poison Ivy:
- Poison ivy only causes an allergic reaction in humans. (This is why my dogs can run around and then poop right in it and never have a problem.)
- Urushiol (the oily organic allergen in poison ivy) is what causes the nasty, itchy skin rash when you touch the plant. (When I showed Tom the chemical structure for the usushiol compound, he said, "Oh, it's a catechol." Apparently also an ortho-hydroquinone.) (See how it is here?)
- According to this website, most people get the rash from touching leaves while gardening, hiking, or looking for a ball lost in the weeds.
- Tom can attest to this. Once, when he was coaching Erin's soccer team, he kept retrieving out-of-bounds soccer balls in the weeds. A couple of days later, we discovered "the weeds" were thick with poison ivy. He was miserable for days and days. (It is one of the only times in his work-life that he has had to take sick days.) (Because it's hard to go to work when you can't put on pants.)
- Brian would add that shooting-your-BB-gun-in-the-woods-up-north-with-your-friends can also lead to contact with poison ivy. (Spring in his sixth grade year was really miserable.)
- I am really careful when gardening. In certain areas of my garden, I always wear my garden shoes (yeah, most times I garden in flip-flops. . . ) and gardening gloves, and I poke around a lot before I do any heavy-duty weeding. When I find poison ivy, I carefully dig it out and move on. When I'm finished gardening, I jump in the shower and scrub. (So far, so good.) (Although at any Master Gardener gathering I've ever been to during the summer months, there will be someone in attendance with an incredibly nasty poison ivy rash.) (Because we all think it will never happen to us.)
- I think I've been pretty lucky, because according this website, urushiol can stay potent (on objects) for up to 5 years. (I probably shouldn't touch my garden trowel with my bare hands for awhile after this last weekend.)
- It takes direct contact with urushiol to cause a poison ivy skin reaction. That means . . . if you touch someone with a poison ivy rash, you will not get it yourself. You only spread the rash if you have the urushiol on you . . . and then you touch someone else.
- You can get a skin reaction, though, if you touch SOMETHING that has touched poison ivy. Garden tools, for example. Or dogs. Or your shoes. (So be careful.)
- Do NOT try to eradicate poison ivy with a lawn mower or a weed wacker, or by burning it. Because then . . . the urushiol will be airborne. (And then you'll really have trouble.) (I've heard horror stories.)
My advice: Keep a close eye out for those leaves of three. (And don't go chasing soccer balls.)
* Although this post is focusing on poison ivy, there is another garden scourge in today's photo . . . bindweed. Not poisonous. But really awful all the same. (Despite it's sweet little morning glory-like blooms.)
** Carole is off on vacation for the next couple of weeks, so no "official" Ten on Tuesday posts until September.