Poison ivy lurks in many places so it’s most important to recognize it. It is attractive in all seasons, reddish in early spring, deep green in summer and shades of red, orange and yellow in autumn. Small, white, waxy berries form in late summer turning red later in the year. A good identifying feature is the placement of leaves; the two horizontal leaves are close together on very short stems, and the third is centred with the stem noticeably longer. Contact with the plant can result in severe itching, sometimes oozing and red blisters.
You can react to the oil even when it’s dormant and lifeless in winter, as the oils remain in dried and dead plants. Handling clothing and footwear that were in contact with the plant can transfer the oils. Pets can get the oil on their fur and transfer it to those who touch them.
If you think you’ve been in contact with poison ivy, as soon as possible, wash with plain, cold water. You may prevent the rash if you can wash within 15 minutes. Do not use soap at first, as it can actually spread the allergin. However, it’s recommended that you wash with soap and water following the plain water cleansing.
Wash all clothing that might have been in contact with the plant, and wipe down shoes.
Never, ever try burning the plant as this could cause terrible irritations, sometimes affecting the lungs.
Enjoy the beauty of the outdoors but walk carefully!
– Eva Krawchuk writes from Winnipeg