Three Tips for Identifying Poison Ivy – NBC10 Philadelphia

For the past few summer months, Elkins Park homeowner Laura Frank has been managing the poison ivy in her garden herself. That year, the stain in her front yard seemed to explode overnight.

“I got people going around the church and looking at this and watching it and getting their strollers out of the way,” Frank said. “I thought, ‘Oh my god. I really need to get this out of here.'”

Frank has a thick thicket of poison ivy in her yard that is about 30 feet long and 10 feet wide, covering the ground under a spruce tree between her driveway and the sidewalk.

“I found that I was outdone,” said Frank.

So Frank phoned reinforcements: Umar Mycka, a horticulturist and specialist in poison ivy removal, and his moving company.

“You can hardly see the poison ivy that hard,” said Mycka in Frank’s front yard. “It’s going to be good sun, a little shade and there is a nice open space to grow.”

Mycka’s employee, Abdul Rahman Ilyas, used a shovel to loosen the buried root system of the poison fire tendril before pulling it up. He wore arm guards and gloves and had long socks on his pants while he worked.

“It’s a long root. You have to follow everything to the end,” said Illyas. “If you cut it it will grow back up, so you’ll have to dig down so you can get to the edge and pull it up.”

Mycka charges well over $ 1,000 for a job this size. To avoid such fees, he recommends identifying and removing poison ivy plants when they are young and small.

“Leaves of three, let it be”

The phrase “leaves of three, let it be” has guided gardeners in poison ivy identification since it first appeared in an elementary school reader around the turn of the century, Mycka said. But now it’s a little too general – Box Elder, Raspberry, and Jack-in-the-Pulpit also have three leaves.

“My customers say, ‘Gosh, everything has leaves of three. How can I tell beyond three sheets? ‘”Said Mycka.

1. Blade arrangement is key.

Mycka invented an addendum to the old adage and now says to his clients: “Leaves of three are like me.”

“Compare it to your body,” said Mycka.

Imagine a stick figure from the waist up: two arms touching at the shoulders and a head above the neck. The arms and head are the three leaves that sprout from the stem.

2. Ripe leaves are smooth-edged.

Immature plants have teeth. Poison ivy plants do not have thorns.

3. Seeds spread through bird droppings.

Mycka suggests looking out for areas where birds congregate when they are weeding the yard.

“Look for seedlings in these places and remove them when they’re small,” Mycka said.

Be careful out there

According to Jason Lee, professor of dermatology at Thomas Jefferson University, more than 80 percent of people are allergic to urushiol, the oil on poison ivy that causes the red, itchy rashes.

Even if you’ve never been given poison ivy, it is advisable to be careful.

“You usually won’t get the rash the first time you run into the plants,” Lee said. “But as soon as you are sensitized, that is, your immune system recognizes the oil [with] After contact with the plant, you will immediately develop a rash within 24 to 72 hours. “

Urushiol is quickly absorbed by the skin. If you accidentally touch poison ivy, Lee recommends washing the product with soap and lukewarm or cold water within 5 to 10 minutes, and washing clothing immediately that may have come in contact with the oil.

This story is reported through a newsgathering partnership between NBC10.com and NewsWorks.org.

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