Poison Ivy: Identification, Eradication, and Treatment


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Probably the most unwanted weed, poison ivy affects more than 350,000 people annually in the United States. Farmers, gardeners, and people who have even any plot of land, both rural and urban, are most likely faced with the problem of eradicating this harmful weed.

Despite its name, poison ivy is not a member of the ivy family (Hedera) but rather a member of the Anacardiaceae plant family, also known as the cashew or sumac family. Believe it or not, it’s actually a relative of cashews, pistachios, and mangoes. This glossy perennial can spread by seeds transmitted by birds, or by producing shoots from its extensive under-ground stems. Poison ivy grows on sandy, stony, or rocky shores, and sprouts in thickets, in clearings, and along the borders of woods and roadsides.

All parts of the poison ivy plant, including the roots, contain the poisonous resin urushiol. Contact with any broken part of the plant, or simply touching the plant, may cause a reaction. Pet fur can also transmit the sap, though the pets themselves are not affected. Urushiol can remain active for several years, on many surfaces and therefore is present on dry leaves and branches of the plant.

Poison ivy greatly benefits from increased carbon dioxide in the air: higher Co, levels make the plant, Digger, and more harmful.



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