Poison Ivy is a plant that most of us learned to recognize as kids – often as a result of suffering through the itchy rash it can cause. Leaflets 3, let it be! We less often heard of its close relatives: Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, and the Poisonwood tree. And by the way, we also have an invasive exotic relative of these plants in Florida – The Brazilian Pepper. This invader from South America can also cause a miserably itchy rash.
I usually get Poison Ivy at least once a year – and usually in spring when weather has warmed up and it is just too nice to stay inside. Yes, I’m suffering from it right now as a result of working in my yard in the spring sunshine. The best approach is to know what these plants look like, and avoid them. To do so, yard work should begin with wearing a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, and not wearing sandals when walking through weeds. I forgot the long-sleeve shirt this year and tugged on a vine to get it down from a favored tree. It came down quickly and landed on my bare arm – poison ivy! The next thing to do is to quickly wash the bare skin thoroughly with soap and cold water. The cold water causes skin pores to close up and reduces rash potential.