Leaves of three, let it be
Summer is here, the kids are out of school, and everyone is spending more time outside. Some of my best summer memories involved camping in the woods with my family, some of the most annoying are memories of biting insects, ticks and poison ivy.
I have recently received several calls regarding the identification and eradication of poison ivy. Here are some tips for finding and getting rid of this pesky plant.
A master of disguise, poison ivy can take the form of a vine, shrub or ground cover. It can have shiny or dull leaves. The leaf edges can be smooth or notched.
So how can you spot poison ivy? The phrase “leaves of three, let it be” is a pretty good rule of thumb. Whether hiking in the woods or playing in a field, beware of any plant with three leaflets.
Western poison ivy, Toxicodendron rydbergi, is found throughout Minnesota. It grows in all types of soil and under all conditions of sun and shade.
Poison ivy is best controlled with an herbicide containing triclopyr, a woody brush killer. It should be applied directly to the leaves of the poison ivy, not soaked into the ground. When used according to directions, this herbicide should not injure established grasses, only broad-leafed plants.
Apply the herbicide when poison ivy is growing actively. Temperatures should be in the 60 to 85 degree range. Avoid windy days when droplets might drift onto the foliage of nearby trees, shrubbery or garden plants.
You may have to spray more than once since poison ivy is tough kill. Wait two weeks or more between applications and repeat only if weather permits.
Don’t apply herbicide after poison ivy foliage begins to show fall color. Wait until new leaves are fully expanded the following spring. Some resprouting might occur several months later. Watch the area for at least a year and repeat the treatment as needed.
As with any garden chemical, read and follow label direction carefully each and every time you use it.
Be very careful cutting down poison ivy. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Note, too, that even the dead plants are poisonous. Never burn them. Smoke and ash can carry toxins to the skin, causing a rash. Inhaling the smoke can be worse.