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Getting Rid of the Plants
Poison ivy, oak and sumac are most dangerous in the spring and summer, when there is plenty of sap, the urushiol content is high, and the plants are easily bruised. However, the danger doesn't disappear over the winter. Dormant plants can still cause reactions, and cases have been reported in people who used the twigs of the plant for firewood or the vines for Christmas wreaths. Even dead plants can cause a reaction, because urushiol remains active for several years after the plant dies.

If poison ivy invades your yard, "there's really no good news for you," says David Yost, a horticulturist (specialist in fruits, vegetables, flowers, and general gardening) with the state of Virginia. The two herbicides most commonly used for poison ivy--Roundup and Ortho Poison Ivy Killer--will kill other plants as well. Spraying Roundup (active ingredient glyphosate) on the foliage of young plants will kill the poison ivy, but if the poison ivy vine is growing up your prize rhododendron or azalea, for example, the Roundup will kill them too, he says.

Ortho Poison Ivy Killer (active ingredient triclopyr), if used sparingly, will kill poison ivy but not trees it grows around, says Joseph Neal, Ph.D., associate professor of weed science, Cornell University. "But don't use it around shrubs, broadleaf ground cover, or herbaceous garden plants," he says. Neal explains it is possible to spray the poison ivy without killing other plants if you pull the poison ivy vines away from the desirable plants and wipe the ivy foliage with the herbicide, or use a shield on the sprayer to direct the chemical.

If you don't want to use chemicals, "manual removal will get rid of the ivy if you're diligent," says Neal. You must get every bit of the plant--leaves, vines, and roots--or it will sprout again.

The plants should be thrown away according to your municipality's regulations, says Neal. Although urushiol will break down with composting, Neal doesn't recommend that because the plants must be chopped into small pieces first, which just adds to the time you're exposed to the plant and risk of a rash. "It's a health issue," he says.

NEVER burn the plants. The urushiol can spread in the smoke and cause serious lung irritation.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that whenever you're going to be around poison ivy--trying to clear it from your yard or hiking in the woods--you wear long pants and long sleeves and, if possible, gloves and boots.

Neal recommends wearing plastic gloves over cotton gloves when pulling the plants. Plastic alone isn't enough because the plastic rips, and cotton alone won't work because after a while the urushiol will soak through.
--I.B.S.
 

Testimonials

"I can't thank you enough for the wonderful relief for poison ivy you sent to me. I have been using it now for about 3 years and i can honestly say it really works. My son got poison on his face and I made some sweet fern up and used it on his face and with 24 hours the swelling went down and he could get his eyes open and the itch went away and the next day he said it started to dry up. All the creams they give me will make poison spread on me but when I started using sweet fern I can get rid of it in about 48 hours. Again thank you so much for this wonderful relief."
- Monica Ditzler from Pennsylvania

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