'Tis the season for poison ivy to start.
And you have to look for it! It is easier to remove when it's small.
Poison ivy and poison oak are very common in this area.
They are similar in that they have three equal-sized, and shiny, green leaves.
The shine on the leaves comes from an oil that when touched, and allowed to stay, can bond with the skin and cause a very itchy rash. And the rash can spread! About 85% of people are allergic to poison ivy, oak, and sumac. And 10%-15% are severely allergic!
And this plant is a true ivy. It grows rapidly, and, being a rhizome plant, can spread underground from place to place. Rhizome plants have subterranean shoots which grow, popping up with leafy plants that shoot elsewhere to grow larger and spread still. Rhizome plants are also called creeping rootstalks and creeping rootstocks.
And poison ivy will grow up the sides of houses, under siding, and can even spread into the inside of a house. I have seen poison ivy happily growing along the ceiling of unfinished basement spaces!
If you ever see the "hairy" root that grows up the sides of trees or houses, then you know THAT is poison ivy! Once that root has taken hold of anything it is extremely difficult to remove! And all aspects of the plant have the oily substance that if touched can cause the skin rash, including branches and roots.
My recommendation: spring is the time to look for small poison ivy plants. That is when they are easiest to kill off, and hopefully before the rhizome shoots begin to spread. Once it has taken hold it is much more difficult to eliminate. If you think you have touched poison ivy, immediately wash the area with dish detergent (which is formulated to break down oils and grease), and COLD water. Hot water will make the oil spread. If you get it on your clothing, wash it immediately by itself. If your dog or cat touches poison ivy and you pet the animal, the oil can spread from the fur to you again, so eliminating it before it grows is best practice!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560