Did You Know: Poison Ivy and Jewelweed

Mother Nature is brilliant. Most of the┬átime, whenever she creates a “problem” for us, she also offers up the solution. Today I want to take a quick look at one way that Mother Nature has done just that: poison ivy and jewelweed. Jewelweed is a native plant that usually occurs in areas that are overrun with poison ivy. Let’s take a look at a picture of both.

poison ivy and jewelweed
The dreaded poison ivy


poison ivy and jewelweed
The delightful jewelweed


You may be wondering how the jewelweed helps to counteract the effects of the poison ivy. It’s actually quite simple. If you’ve been exposed to the poison ivy oil (urushiol), take some of the jewelweed and crush it. Rub it over the affected areas and use it to clean your skin. It’s quite a juicy plant so it will serve you well. I learned this from Peggy Singlemann at Maymont when I worked there. Like so many other things that I learned while working there, this has served me well.

Have you ever used jewelweed to counteract the misery that poison ivy can bring? Do you know of any other “homemade” remedies? If so, please leave a comment below or e-mail me so that other Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers can learn from your experience. If you enjoy being part of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening community, join our e-mail list (upper right hand corner of this page), become a fan on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Happy gardening!


Did You Know? Poison Ivy vs Virginia Creeper

The poison ivy is out in full force. It seems like everywhere I look, the three-leaved bandit is popping up. There are very few plants that I would like to eradicate permanently but poison ivy is one of them. It’s hard for me to find God’s purpose in poison ivy…it’s a vine that chokes out other plants and it makes whoever touches it miserable. I guess life is full of unanswered questions…

My objective with this post is to make sure that you understand the difference between poison ivy and Virginia creeper. Many people think that they know the difference only to discover that they don’t. I know of a lady that thought she knew the difference and proceeded to work all day removing large established poison ivy plants…she ended up in the hospital several days later and had to be given large doses of steroids…ouch!

There is a saying “leaves of three, leave them be”. That’s the distinguishing characteristic of poison ivy: it has three leaflets.

poison ivy

Virginia creeper has five leaflets, although some juvenile plants can have three leaflets at some point on the vine. But if you keep observing the vine, you’ll notice five leaflets at some point.

poison ivy
Photo courtesy of www.muohio.edu


If you are clearing overgrown areas of your property in the winter, look out for hairy vines like these.

poison ivy
Photo courtesy of www.poisonivy.org


They are a tell-tale sign of poison ivy. And yes, they carry the same punch in the winter as they do in the summer. If you have to remove poison ivy,┬áthe best time to do it is in the winter but you still need to be extremely careful…it’s the oil from the plant that really does the damage. That oil is known as urushiol and it can be spread by direct contact or through the air. NEVER BURN POISON IVY PLANTS! The oil can be dispersed through the air and that is something that you never want to inhale.

So, can you differentiate between poison ivy and Virginia creeper? Have you ever had a run in with poison ivy? Let me know by leaving me a comment below or sending me an e-mail. If you enjoy being part of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening community, join our e-mail list (upper right hand corner of this page), become a fan on Facebook and follow me at Twitter. Happy gardening!