Friday, February 12, 2016

Rhus radicans, otherwise known as Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy.  Dreaded garden weed.  So pretty in the fall.  I know it doesn't seem like the time to talk about summer and fall weeds, but what some people don't realize, is that you can get a very bad rash from the roots, and they are pretty hard to tell from other roots when you are clearing land or making new flower beds in late winter of early spring.  My worst case ever happened just that way, at a new house that I had moved into over the winter and didn't realize that where I was clearing for flower beds was actually a massive patch of poison ivy.  The results of my good intentions weren't pretty.

The fall color can vary greatly, from yellows to reds to oranges and combinations of them.  The tiny white flowers turn to shiny white berries, looking something like Mistletoe berries, which the birds will do their best to spread to other places where you'd rather they didn't.

I am blessed to have a partner who isn't allergic to it (I think 40% of the population isn't) and can pull it for me.  My father wasn't allergic either and I wasn't until I was in my 20s, about the time my other allergies also appeared.  

So enjoy the photos from a distance, and if you do have a run-in with these leaves or roots, there are 2 things that I find work very well to relieve the itch.  The first if Jewelweed,   Impatiens capensis is the orange one and Impatiens pallida is the yellow form.  The sap will sooth the itch pretty quickly.

If you don't have this growing nearby, an even easier fix is to just submerge the itchy spots in water at a temperature that is as hot as you can stand (or use a washcloth for places you can't easily submerge.  This takes the itch away for me for at least 8 hours, and usually more like 12.  Since my hands are the most likely place to be itchy, just washing dished in very hot water usually does the trick.

No comments: