Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Positive Identification

with 3 comments

At the risk of belaboring this subject of my ongoing struggles with poison ivy —a topic which I would really prefer people not automatically associate me with [so why am I writing about it?]— I made some progress yesterday on learning to better identify it on our property.

I have been writing about it in my online community, Brainstorms, and one of the responses I received there bolstered my confidence that I would figure out how to positively recognize it. Armed with a fresh review of images available online for reference, I enlisted Cyndie to join me as a second set of eyes and opinions and we set out on a reconnaissance mission along our northern property line where I suspect my most recent exposure occurred.

IMG_iP0792eAfter several cases of “See, this has the features, and also these, but not quite,” BOOM! We came upon an unsettling amount of easily recognizable 3-leaflet clusters where the back two leaves have a single notch that gives them a mitten-like appearance. The leaves were a little shinier than other plants, and the newest sprouts had a red coloring. It suddenly seemed very obvious to me.

It was a weird feeling to still have a significant rash in the process of healing, and be finally staring from a short distance away, directly at the plant that causes it. I had to resist the urge to just reach down and pull it out by the roots. All I could do was stare. I didn’t even want my boot to touch it. Heck, I didn’t even want to breathe if the wind blew past.

IMG_iP0792e1The longer we walked, the more plants I located. I think I liked it better when I remained oblivious.

My discussion on Brainstorms brought up the point that if I don’t take any action against the plants, they will just spread. That got my attention. I’ve been operating as though my efforts to ignore it might somehow make it go away.

See why I don’t want to be remembered for this?

Anyway, since I prefer to avoid the extreme option of attacking it with a harsh chemical herbicide like Roundup, I looked up natural ways to kill the poison ivy plant.

Number one option: goats.

Hmmm. But how do I get them to eat around the desirable plants? Actually, although Cyndie said she thought poison ivy was on a list of things a horse shouldn’t eat, I found information that horses can graze on it. That would be nice. I don’t think I will walk them around encouraging them to eat the plants growing along our trails, but I think some is growing out in the fields we have designated as pasture for them, and I’d rather not have to worry about it being there.

There are also options of potions containing white vinegar, mixtures of salt and soap, and even one that uses gin and apple cider vinegar that can be sprayed on the leaves. That doesn’t seem too harsh, although I don’t know that it won’t also kill other growing things in the same vicinity. I’d prefer that it not end up looking like we just poured Roundup on it.

Regardless what method we employ, it requires that I be able to identify the culprit, and I am now finally feeling confident I can pick it out among the myriad other innocuous and desirable flora carpeting our glorious acres. It’s been a rude awakening.













Written by johnwhays

May 18, 2015 at 6:00 am

3 Responses

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  1. Your hot water method worked great on my poison ivy! Thanks so much. I’ve tried the natural spray potions.. Lots of them, with disappointing results. I’ve heard of people lending/renting out goats for poison ivy eradication. The only effective method I’ve found is to suit up and pull it up by the roots by hand (waterproof gloves). I don’t think that is an option for you though, your area is too big for that. Good luck!


    May 18, 2015 at 9:39 am

    • From what I have found to read on the subject, the natural white vinegar needs to be 20% acidity and time of application needs to be just right, and may require multiple applications. If I try this, and I think I will, I am prepared for disappointing results because it seems like a lot of things need to align to successfully eradicate it. I don’t think I have much choice, especially if it continues to spread and become more established if I don’t!


      May 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm

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