Last year I saw what I thought to be a poison ivy tree. I always thought that poison ivy was a ground cover, but I was certain that I discovered a poison ivy tree and discovered it growing adjacent to our yard in the railroad ditch. I had a hunter I knew check it out, along with some other people, but they all said they were pretty sure poison ivy didn't grow that way.
As I sit typing this though, my fingers on my left hand are so swollen that I can't put them together. I have blisters and oozing bumps (yeah, I look kinda gross right now) not only covering my fingers, but also on my hands, wrists, forearms, neck, face, around my eye, on my lips, and even some in my mouth. There is also a spot on my ankle and maybe one or two showing up on my back. Yup. Poison ivy trees do exist.
Okay, so I may be stretching the story a bit. Not with my poison ivy rash - I really do have all of that, but with the tree. It is actually a big, dying tree covered with massive poison ivy vines which pretty much cover up the tree. Here's a picture of it. If you click on the picture you can see the leaves of 3 and the way they turn color before most other plants. Also, take note that the tree itself is wide enough that I couldn't put my arms around it if I tried (which I didn't, and I won't!). That will give you somewhat of an idea of how massive this vine is.
How did I get the poison ivy if I didn't hug the tree? Well, that is my own fault. I was cleaning out our overgrown railroad ditch again at our walnut dumping spot - this time quite a ways away from our raspberries, but about 10-15 feet from our poison ivy tree. Even though others disagreed, I had a suspicion that the tree had poison ivy on it so I should have been watching out for it on the ground too. It turns out that whole part of the ditch has poison ivy on the ground. And I found it. Before I saw it.
I thought I would share some of the things that have worked for me to keep the itch bearable. My favorite is to run as hot of water as I can stand on the spots as long as I can stand. I guess it overloads nerve receptors and turns them off for awhile. This lasts around 4 hours. (edited 5 '08 to add: Although this feels REALLY, REALLY!!! good, it might actually make the poison ivy worse - opening up pores and causing it to go deeper.) For the spots that I can't burn with water, vinegar helps take the itch away a bit. Also, a paste of oatmeal left on until it dries feels nice. I also have heard that rubbing the inside of a banana peel on the spot helps. Feel free to share your favorite home remedy. Also, I would love to hear how to get rid of this stuff.
So now I guess that I am going to have to find another spot in our yard where I can play. I'm starting to run out of options of cheap outdoor things to work on with our lot in town. Thankfully though, our yard has 5 or 6 really large walnut trees on it so I can comb the yard for walnuts for awhile if I can't think of anything better. I will just have to watch out where I dump them.
Here are Caleb and Hannah helping me pick up walnuts. I am so glad they didn't get into the poison ivy as we were dumping them.