How to Recognize Poison Ivy

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How to Recognize Poison Ivy

If you want to avoid getting a bad case of poison ivy, it helps to see it!  The photo below is filled with it!


  1. leaves in groups of 3 ("leaves of 3, let it be" is the old saying)
  2. The newer, younger leaves look very shiny, especially in the spring.  That shine is the poisonous oil!
  3. The leaves can have smooth edges or additional lobes or serrations.
  4. The stem leading up to the leaf is often a reddish color
  5. Grows only in partial sun, such as on the edges of footpaths in the woods, or at the edges of woods, rarely in the deep shade, and rarely in the open full sun (but it will sometimes!).

If you do touch it (or touch a dog that has just been rolling in it) wash all exposed skin as soon as possible (within an hour) with strong soap (like laundry detergent, thoroughly).  It is an allergen, so removing it quickly is key.

There are blocking creams you can put on, before you go into the woods. Larger drugs stores sell them.

Poison ivy
Note 90% of the plants in this photo are poison ivy, there are a two small maple tree seedlings, in the top left corner and towards the top right.  I assume you can figure out the obvious differences.

What to do if you get poison ivy

If you get some of the poison ivy plant oil on you and don't realize it and wash it off, you may get a rash.  You may not; remember, it is an allergen, and some people just aren't allergic to it.  If you start to itch and see red bumps, like small bug bits, but raised and hard, and many of them clustered together, that is probably it.  

First wash the affected area with a strong drying soap to remove as much of the remaining plant oil as possible.  Then apply a drying cream, like Calamine lotion.  You may also want to use an anti-itch cream, like Lanacaine.  And above all, do NOT scratch it!  That spreads any remaining oil, and if you create a cut, may open your skin to an infection.

The contents of the pustules do not spread poison ivy, though.

And if you haven't had it before call your doctor just to be sure you haven't  misdiagnosed yourself!


Fruit and Vegetable Picking Tips

[General picking tips and a guide to each fruit and vegetable] [How much do I need to pick? (Yields - how much raw makes how much cooked or frozen)] [Selecting the right varieties to pick] [All about apple varieties - which to pick and why!]  [Picking tips for Vegetables] [ Strawberry picking tips] [ Blueberries picking tips]









Illustrated Canning, Freezing, Jam Instructions and Recipes

[ Easy Home Canning Directions] [FAQs - Answers to common questions and problems] [Recommended books about home canning, jam making, drying and preserving!] [Free canning publications to download and print]