Angie's List Report: Identifying Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac

Reported by: Amy Katcher
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Updated: 8/07 4:21 am
(WDEF) Homeowner Shirley Branham loves tending to her yard and garden, but she can't seem to escape the itchy wrath of poison ivy.
        She said, "I usually just noticed one or two little dots which eventually unfortunately then spread all the way up my arm or on my legs."
        The key to avoiding a rash like Shirley's is knowing how to spot these poisonous plants.
        Poison ivy grows in all areas of the continental U-S.
        Poison oak is most common on the West Coast, but it's also found in Southeastern states.
        And poison sumac grows in swampy areas of the Southeast.
        Emily Wood works as a horticulturist.  She said, "Poison oak and poison ivy look fairly similar, but poison sumac has much more leaflets, more leaves on the leaflet."
        Birds often feed on the berries of these plants and consequently spread the seeds, so look for the plants in areas where birds hang out - on or under trees or near fences.
        Angie's List researchers found many lawn care companies won't go near these plants, but there are some that do specialize in removal.
        Angie Hicks of Angie's List said, "During the hiring process be sure to cover how the company is going to tackle the problem. Are they going to use chemicals to remove the plants? Are they going to dig the plants up? How long do they guarantee their work? Will they come back if the plant reappears? Also, don't forget these plants like to spread so if the plant is in your neighbor's yard you want to understand that problem as well."
        You may be able to tackle smaller plants on your own, but be sure to wear protective clothing and know how to properly dispose.
        Wood added, "Most of the time it's probably best to put it in a plastic bag and throw it away, but keep in mind, that anything that touches it will carry the oil and you can get the contact dermatitis from the oil."
        You should never burn these plants or use a weed eater or lawn mower to get rid of them - you'll just distribute the oil.

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