Myths and Truths about Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac

1) Go get a goat! 

Goats are poison ivy and poison oak eaters. Poison Ivy and poison oak can be found throughout North America, and might even be in your backyard. Depending on where you live, poison ivy can be a sly invader that tries to overthrow your garden. If you are looking for an effective, eco-friendly (and likely impractical) way to get rid of poison ivy, pet goats will do the trick. They can and will eat as much poison ivy/ oak as they want without any ill effects. If you would like any vegetation cleared, namely poison ivy and oak, count on pet goats to gobble them up (possibly along with your entire garden). As a former foster parent of two goats, I can personally attest to this.

 

2) Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are all the same plant, just different names, right? 

Wrong. While poison ivy, oak, and sumac are all in the same plant family, known as anacardiaceae, they are different plants, each with distinct features. A major common thread between them, however, is that they all produce urushiol oil (the oily resin that causes skin rashes and irritation).

 

3) Are mangoes a no-go?

The truth is, mangoes are in the same family as poison ivy, oak, and sumac. Since the sap of the tree and rind of  mango contains urushiol, touching mango tree leaves, bark, and other parts that contain urushiol can cause skin irritation.


4) Scratch and spread Poison Ivy?

Scratching the rash or blisters that have developed on your skin will not spread a poison ivy rash, as urushiol is what causes the spread of poison ivy, oak, and sumac. In any case, scratching is not recommended because it can cause further irritation and increase skin inflammation.

 

5) Poison Oak and Oak are family, right?

No, they are not. The main similarity the two share (other than a similar name) is that the shape of poison oak leaves somewhat resemble oak leaves. That said, the next time you see a beautiful oak tree, don’t be afraid to lean on it and/ or enjoy its shade; it won’t bite or give you poison oak, I assure you. :)

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