Whether you are taking a walk in nature or just trying to get some yard work done, it is important that you know how to identify poison ivy should you come across it. This poisonous plant will make you itch like crazy and can be spread from touching it (usually by coming in contact with its leaves or yanking its roots out of the ground), or touching something that has touched it, such as your clothes or your dog. A poison ivy rash typically lasts anywhere from one to three weeks. Fortunately, this guide will help you easily identify poison ivy, and also includes some helpful sayings to make remembering these tips easier.
“Leaves of Three, Let It Be”
The easiest saying to remind yourself what poison ivy looks like is “leaves of three, let it be.” This old rhyme refers to the grouping of three leaves most commonly associated with the poison ivy plant. While there are many other types of plants with three leaves, remembering this saying is a good way to begin identifying poison ivy so you can stay clear from it.
“Hairy Vine, No Friend of Mine”
Another great way to identify poison ivy is knowing what it looks like when it grows on trees. An easy rhyme to recall for this is “hairy vine, no friend of mine”. Since poison ivy vines growing from trees have a “hairy” or “raggy” appearance, this rhyme comes in handy for warning others to be on the lookout for the plant.
“Red Leaflets in the Spring, Its a Dangerous Thing”
Another important tip for identifying poison ivy is knowing the different colors it can be. Saying this old rhyme to yourself can be helpful, “red leaflets in the spring, its a dangerous thing.” This rhyme refers to the plant’s new leaflets in the spring, which have a red appearance. During the summer, the plant’s leaflets are green, which can make it more difficult to distinguish from other plants. In the fall, the leaflets have a reddish-orange appearance.
“Side Leaflets Like Mittens, It Will Itch Like The Dickens”
The rhyme “side leaflets like mittens, will itch like the dickens” is helpful for identifying some, but not all poison ivy leaves, and refers to the plants leaves where sometimes, each of the two side leaflets have a small notch, making them resemble a mitten with a thumb.
“Longer Middle Stem, Stay Away from Them.”
This rhyme refers to poison ivy’s middle leaflets, which tend to have a longer stem than its other two side leaflets. So remember, “longer middle stem, stay away from them.”
What To Do If You Know You’ve Been Exposed to Poison Ivy
While remembering these rhymes and tips can be extremely helpful in identifying poison ivy, accidents do still happen from time to time and you may still somehow find yourself being exposed to the plant. If you think or know that you have been exposed to poison ivy, the following tips can be useful:
- Within an hour or so, rinse with cold water. A garden hose works well for this.
- Do Not shower with hot water. Doing so may only make the rash spread. This is because, hot water will open your pores and let the oil in, spreading the rash.
- Washing with alcohol can sometimes also help, but after about a half an hour, it may be too late, because the oil soaks into your skin after this and cannot be removed.
- Visit your local drugstore. For minor poison ivy rashes, they may have a treatment that will work to prevent further rash, and alleviate itching.
- For a more serious poison ivy rash you will need to consult your doctor.
- Dispose of any clothing that may have come in contact with the plant if you can afford to. The oil is very difficult to remove from clothing and may only cause you to break out in a rash again in the future. If you can’t afford to throw out your clothes, try washing them in bleach, two or three times before wearing them again.
Poison Ivy Facts: www.poison-ivy.org
Identifying Plants: www.gobotany.newenglandwild.org