When skin comes into contact with poison ivy sap, the allergic reaction can be painful. The best way to not come into contact with poison ivy is by identifying and avoiding it.
The plant is particularly common:
Poison ivy grows as a shrub. A climbing vine variety can also be found in southwestern Québec
Poison ivy is anywhere from 20 centimetres to a metre tall. This perennial multiplies from seeds or from its extensive network of underground stems.
Poison ivy leaves are shiny. Each leaf is made up of 3 pointed leaflets (small leaves). The stem of the middle leaflet is much longer than those of the other 2 leaflets.
The edge of the leaves can be smooth or notched.
The leaves are reddish when they appear in the spring and turn green in summer. In the fall they turn different shades of yellow, orange or red.
In the months of June and July, poison ivy produces cream-coloured flowers.
Round, waxy fruit appears in September. It grows in clusters, and its colour varies from green to yellow.
People often confuse poison ivy with ragweed. However, these 2 plants are very different.
Ragweed leaves are similar to those of carrots, while poison ivy leaves are slightly indented or not indented at all. Touching poison ivy is dangerous, whereas touching ragweed presents no risk.
For more information on the differences between the 2 plants, read “Identifying Ragweed” on the Identifying and Limiting the Presence of Ragweed page.
As poison ivy has harmful effects on health, it is important to prevent it from growing and multiplying.
Before getting rid of poison ivy, make sure you do the following:
If you must handle poison ivy, protect yourself properly:
Even dead poison ivy plants can cause allergic reactions. Handle these carefully as well.
To control poison ivy, you must prevent it from multiplying by destroying its roots and stems. To do this, you must:
Never burn poison ivy plants. Inhaling the smoke produced by burning poison ivy plants can have very dangerous consequences. It can lead to extremely painful inflammation of the lungs and serious respiratory problems that can result in death.
Poison ivy sap that sticks to clothes and tools can be dangerous for a long time. After handling poison ivy, make sure you wash everything that could have come into contact with the plant, including your shoes and laces.
Wash clothes that could have come into contact with the sap separately from uncontaminated clothing. Machine wash them in hot water with soap. You should probably wash contaminated clothing several times to completely get rid of the sap.
Don’t forget to wear rubber or nitrile gloves when handling items that may have been contaminated with sap.
Call Info-Santé 811 for further information on what to do in case of contact with poison ivy sap.
Last update: September 23, 2016 10:40 AM
The information on this website by no means replaces the advice of a health professional. If you have questions regarding your health, contact Info-Santé 811 or see a health professional.