Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Poison Ivy

Since our yard, especially in the back, was mostly left wild by the previous occupants, we're finding quite a variety of native plants coming up back there, including a big healthy patch of Toxicodendron radicans in the eastern corner. I've never gotten a reaction to poison ivy before, so I'm either not allergic or only mildly so, but my husband is very sensitive to it, so it's going to have to go. Fortunately the plants are still small and haven't developed into the big woody vines I've seen in some natural areas, but there's a lot of little plants coming up. Even though I vastly prefer organic methods, I might have to resort to Roundup for this. I could try wearing gloves and pulling the plants up one by one, but there's just so many of them!

Here's a close up of one of the plants. Poison ivy is actually an attractive plant, in my opinion. The gloss on the leaves is the irritating oil of the plant, and the stems are red in many specimens (but not all). I've heard that deer and goats both love to eat it, and the berries are enjoyed by songbirds (who then disperse the seeds). So it does have its place in nature, but not in the yard of someone who's highly allergic to it!

Unfortunately there's also some Virginia Creeper growing in among the poison ivy, which might get killed if I end up using herbicide. This is a different vine that is often mistaken for poison ivy, but it has five leaflets instead of three, and is in the grape family, while poison ivy is in the sumac family. In the above picture, the Virginia creeper is to the left, and the poison ivy is to the right. The hairy, woody vines growing up trees are very hard to tell apart, especially in the winter when they lose their leaves, so if you see a vine like that on a tree, it's best to just not touch it to be on the safe side.

I've already caught the cats walking through the poison ivy, so there's a danger that they could spread the oil to my husband if they get some on them, then come in and snuggle on him. The poison ivy is going to have to go!

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