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Can You Identify Poison Ivy When You See It?

I do this a lot on home inspections.  I ask my clients, "Can you identify poison ivy when you see it?"

You can see poison ivy on and around houses, or huge patches just off the mowed grass of the lawn nationwide.  Often I ask clients if they know what the plant is when I find it around the house.  Seldom they do.  That can be a problem!

It was no different yesterday.

It is spring!  Sometimes the poison ivy from last year has settled down to sleep for the winter.

Here it is coming forth to grow around and cover up this electric meter.

In a couple of months someone may have decided to clean it off, wrapping the ivy around their hands to pull it away.

How can you tell poison ivy?

Two ways!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, it has three equal leaves, somewhat shiny.  They are shiny because they are covered with oils.  Once you get that oil on bare skin, if you are allergic, it will bond and you will be uncomfortable for over a week! 

Second, poison ivy has a very "hairy" root.  When you see large hairy roots growing up and around a tree's trunk, you can be sure it is poison ivy!

What do you do if you think you touched it?

WASH WITH COLD WATER AND DISH DETERGENT.

Warm and hot water helps it to bond with skin.  Dish detergent is formulated to cut oils and grease.  It works well to cut and remove the oil from your skin. 

Not everyone is allergic to poison ivy and if you are not good for you!  BUT!  If you have the oil on your skin or clothes and touch someone else who is allergic, you can transfer it to them!  Also, the dog can roll in it, get the oils on its fur and you pet the dog.  It will transfer to you that way too!

So wash up!  Including your clothes.

So, pay attention to your yard and what is growing there!  It is easiest to remove poison ivy when it is small.

Poison ivy (and poison oak and in the west there is poison sumac) is a true ivy.  It grows by sending out rhizomes, which are shoots off the stalk.  They grow underground and spring up nearby.  The new shoot sends out its own rhizomes and before long you have a patch.  It is relentless.

Poison ivy never grows as an individual plant.

There are various yard chemicals you can use to eradicate it.  Some are made to just kill the poison ivy off and leave what is nearby!  So read the label.

Spray the leaves and the base where they come up from the ground.  If you see more develop spray it too.

So, BECOME EDUCATED AND BEWARE!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 57 commentsJay Markanich • April 14 2011 06:25AM

Comments

Jay, We've learned to watch for it in our own yard, and out showing homes!  Another reason no one should wear sandals/flip flops when doing viewings!  Walk through a patch of it and you'll regret it!! 

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 9 years ago

Good morning Jay, I grew up in Michigan. Poison Ivy was everywhere. We learned at a very young age what to avoid.

We did from time to time find the need for some "calamine lotion" LOL

We could and sometimes did end up "pink and itchy" LOL

Clint

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 9 years ago

Jay, thanks for this valuable information. My father use to be peppered with Poison Ivy. It isn't any fun at all.

Posted by David Burrows, No Pressure, Just Seriously Devoted to Real Estate (Classic Realty) over 9 years ago

With summertime coming, this is such a timely post. Thanks for the useful information. I could never remember if it had 3 or 4 leaves.

Posted by Bernadine Hunter, SFR, ACRE, "Finding Solution to Your Real Estate Needs" (Keller Williams Greater Columbus Realty) over 9 years ago

Jay,

Glad you mentioned the dog rolling in it and transferring the oil. That is one of the sneakiest ways to get the oil on your skin.

Posted by John McCarthy, Realtor - Seacoast NH over 9 years ago

True Bliz.  I have had realtors say they brushed up against it with bare legs under their dress and get a bad spot there too.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

That's what we used as a kid too Clint.  I don't know that it worked real well though!

David - my brother actually got it in his blood, being very allergic.  That caused him to get it every year, whether he touched it or not.  He had to sleep with rubber gloves on his hands!

Bernadine - my clients yesterday had no idea what they were looking at!  Best to educate!

Sure John.  Pets are a problem!  People don't think of that angle either.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, once you have had it badly you learn to be careful about pulling roots out of unknown plants too!  thanks

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 9 years ago

It can be a big deal Ginny.  At Scout Camp the first thing we do it go into the woods and identify the poison ivy so the boys remember what to look for.  Nothing is better than having poison ivy at Scout Camp!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Good morning, Jay. Oh Yeah!!! Leaflets three, leave it be...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Right, Michael, unless it's strawberries!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Great info Jay, thanks.  The late Ralph Snodsmith always said, "read the label directions",  I just say, "leaves of three, let it be"

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) over 9 years ago

That is hard for some to do Ken!  And as to the three leaves, see #11!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

We had a neighbor who got a whopping case when they were building....she built a rash everywhere...very common here...and folks need to know this applies to pets as well who may be taking a romp...get it themselves and gift you with it as well !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 9 years ago

Jay, Yes I know, I'm very allergic to the plant! Good information.

Posted by Keith Gilkey, 410-920-7214, Re/Max Chesapeake (Re/Max Chesapeake) over 9 years ago

Thanks for the reminder! With everything blooming and growing it's important to watch out for this poisonous plant.  I have spent many years suffering from the effects of rubbing up against this plant in the garden without realizing it's presence.

Posted by Barbara Michaluk, Leisure World Specialist / Full Service REALTOR (Weichert Realtors | Silver Spring, MD Phone Direct 240-506-2434) over 9 years ago

You mean licking it isn't the way to test if the plant is poison ivy? :)

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay,

Great warning.  Poison ivy is brutal to me, and rampant in this area.  I keep an eye out for it when we view houses, to keep buyers and their kids out of it.

We had a 1" diameter vine growing 40' up a pine tree at the back of our property.  It was the source of a bazillion vines around the place.  When I found it, it growled at me.  But, I have an ax.......

A few years after disabling the mother ship, we have very little poison ivy.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 9 years ago

Very timely post Jay, we have poison ivy growing on our cottage property and my mother-in-law has has numerous losing battle with the vine in the twelve years I have known her.  I will re-blog this so that my audience can learn to tell this what this noxious plant looks like and what to do if they touch it...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 9 years ago

I can because I start to itch immediately when I see it.   I know I know it isn't possible but I am highly allergic to the stuff and it doesn't take much for me to end up a mess with one little touch. 

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Jay ~  Thanks for the lesson and the reminder.  Cinnamon is extremely allergic to poison ivy and has been hospitalized by simply breathing smoke from a neighbor burning it off.  Nasty, mean stuff!

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) over 9 years ago

Jay, found this through Chris' re-blog.  A very appropriate post at this time of year.  Pictures were all that were needed to set my sights for this annoyance.  Here it's between the toes before you know it. 

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) over 9 years ago

As far as I know I'm not allergic but I know someone who reacts just from seeing it.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 9 years ago

Jay, that's the first thing I look for when going around a house for an estimate.  And I continually show my guys what NOT to touch at the jobsite.

I learned how to ID it growing up in the Boy Scouts.  It's very helpful to know what it is and stay away!

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 9 years ago

Jay, one of the worst things is to burn it---breathing the smoke you can get it inside your throat and lungs.  Another thing we have very little of around here.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

this is one weed that grows everywhere! thanks for the information!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 9 years ago

Great information for everyone.  I am amazed at how many people can't recognize it. 

Posted by Cinnamon Wright, Assistant to Tish Lloyd (Wilmington Real Estate 4U 910.547.1446) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay - Thanks so much for this - I didn't know about the hairy roots, or that it looks so benign when it's bigger. Good warning for this time of year.

Posted by Judy Klem, Home Staging, Senior Move Management, Fairfield/New Haven counties (Transition Stage LLC) over 9 years ago

I felt itchy just reading about it--I've had more than one case of Poison Ivy but I hope to have no more.  When I was a kid I was always covered in pink Calamine Lotion until I learned to recognize the culprit.

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) over 9 years ago

S&D - it's definitely all over the country!

Keith - some are very allergic.  My brother contracted it for years as a kid.  I never did!

Barbara - it is pervasive and sneaks up.  The plants start very small and very cute.

Jim - that's the way I'd go if I was you...  Then again, there's always the salad approach.  I hear it tastes like dandelion.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Chris - noxious is a good word!  And insidious!  Thanks for the reblog too!

Cindy - I'd recommend you not touch it.  Maybe not even look at it...

Tish - burning it is stupid and very, very dangerous to people in the area!  You can tell that guy I said that too.  Nevermind, I'll send Mosby over.

Kevin - I make it a point to show it to clients when they have it in the yard.  Just another inspector service!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Robert - I am not either, but as I get older things change and I am not going to test that water.

Me too Jeremy.  The first thing we do when we get to scout camp is go into the woods and identify poison ivy nearby.

Charlie - I understand you have poison sumac out west.  Is it there?  I have never seen it and except for basic knowledge that it has many leaves, wouldn't know how to identify it.

You're welcome Barbara-Jo.  The maps say it is in every state.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Cinnamon - it is one of those things it is best to get educated on!

Now is the time it begins Judy.  And as a small and cute little plant!

Norma - it's best to learn early to identify it!  Good for you.  Hope you're still up to speed.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, are you a Scoutmaster?

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 9 years ago

For the second time around!  I have been involved with scouting, one way or another, for 47 years.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Awesome!

I'm an Eagle Scout, but not in adult leadership yet.  I think I will be someday, but for now 4 kids under 8 at home is enough.  :)

Occoneechee Council down here.  What council are you in?

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 9 years ago

We are the National Capital Area Council here.  And our Order of the Arrow Amangamek Wipit.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Awesome!  Both the council and the lodge are Occoneechee.  You can remember how to spell that by singing the old Mickey Mouse song tune:

 

OCC, ONE, ECHEE.  Occoneechee!  Occoneechee!  Forever let us hold our banners high! high!  high!

(MIC, KEY, MOUSE...)

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 9 years ago

 

Hey, Jay!

I included this post in Last Week's Favorites.  Good job!

 

 

 

 

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Jay, after having had it a couple of time, real bad, Ido know what to look for and approach it with great respect. That stuff is wicked, and it does come back as an ugly reminder.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 9 years ago

That's pretty cool Jeremy!  We don't have the ability to do that!

Wow, thanks Pat!  Again...

Ed - and poison oak is even worse!  Beware!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Thanks for the tutorial on Poison Ivy. Now I'll be able to avoid it my backyard and not be miserable for the typical week of every summer when I inevitably touch it.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 9 years ago

It is hard to avoid Chris Ann!  I pull it in my yard when it is really small and just go wash my hands quickly

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay-

I used to be incredibly allergic to poison ivy; now I'm just normal-allergic.  It was so bad growing up that I had to get shots at the doctors every Saturday to try to improve my tolerance.  If we drove by someone burning leaves in their yard, we had to roll up our car windows until we got past - just in case they were burning poison ivy because if I sniffed it, it would be up my nasal cavity.  YUCKO.  Every summer I'd go to girl scout camp, and I'd come home covered with it, even though I studiously stayed away.  I had years of school photos where I had my hair plastered back on my head so it wouldn't fall onto my face, which was covered with itchy horrible bumps.  Poor kid!

But you know what?  I don't remember ever learning that the stems/roots are hairy.  Also, while I knew water and dish detergent was the best way to eliminate the oils, I had no idea the water should be cold.  So even I, queen of poison ivy, just learned something!

Thanks for the post!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) over 9 years ago

Kathleen - glad to help!  We grow into and out of allergies.  My brother got it every year so bad he had to wear rubber gloves to bed!  Burning it is very NO THINK.  Why put that out into the air?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay -- Thanks SO much for this. We have never had an issue with poison ivy until the last few years.  WE had 14 trees removed and the tree cutter reported poison ivy growing up the trees.  We never even took notice.  I do appreciate your remedy --- washing with COLD water instead of hot/warm.  Good thing to remember.

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (Kinard Realty Group Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Barbara - those vines are still in the ground as roots and shoots!  Be careful, they are very pervasive.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, I avoid anything with three leaves - and let's not forget its cousin, poison sumac with five leaves! I studiously avoid anything with five leaves as well!

Sharon

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) over 9 years ago

Frank and Sharon - poison sumac is out west and I have NO experience with it!  It's in our scout manual, but not out here in the east.  Lots of three leaves though!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay - awesome blog post. I am always worried about it, but it is the first time I read about it, and looks like I will now be able to detect it when I see it

I suggested the blog. Surprised it is not featured

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) over 9 years ago

Thanks Jon.  It is easy to spot and important to know about!  My legal name is Jon, spelled the way you (we) do too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jon,

Boy did Chip and I learn the hard way about hairy roots when we moved to a farm a year ago. No leaves at that time to tip us off.  He has it again now...

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) over 9 years ago

That is a big clue as to poison ivy Irene.  Most people do not realize.  The results can be really bad!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I never (keeping my fingers crossed) had problems personally with poison ivy. However, I have plenty of those in my yard. To add to my problem, I have a hard time recognizing it. Thank you once again, for the great information.

Posted by Lydie Ouellet Dickinson, Realtor (Realty Executives Tri County, Bellingham MA) over 9 years ago

Well, Lydie, I hope you can recognize it now!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Thanks for the info.  Believe it or not, I've never come across it, or if I have, I never knew it.  I find a lot of stinging nettles though.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

They are the worst Reubs!  I hate finding myself in a pit of them!  After the fact that is...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

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