Umar Mycka is a respected horticulturist serving Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Umar recently sat down for an interview with Partner Joe, team leader of The Partners 5, to discuss Joe’s new web comic and, more importantly, how to solve the poison ivy challenge people face in their day-to-day lives.
Umar Mycka: Joe, congratulations on the launch of your new online adventure comic, The Partners 5.
Partner Joe: Thanks, Umar. The response to the first episode of Hostile Heartroot really shows me that folks are interested in solving the poison ivy problem.
UM: Joe, what do you consider the greatest challenge to combating poison ivy?
PJ: It’s definitely that folks have difficulty of positively identifying the plant. If people don’t know what poison ivy really looks like, they don’t know what plant to avoid touching. The confusion starts with the plant`s leaflets.
UM: Now, Joe, you have been saying leaflets instead of leaves, why is that?
PJ: Because each poison ivy leaf is made up of five parts: three blades (or leaflets), and two stems (or petioles). All five parts together make one leaf.
UM: Can you say more about that?
PJ: Sure. Think about the human body from the waist up; it’s made up of a head, neck, torso, right arm, and left arm—all these are the parts that together make up a whole body. By the same token three leaflets, two stems, make up a whole poison ivy leaf.
UM: Ok, I get it! What about the other distinguishing factors like leaflet color, size of leaflet, shine or dullness, smooth leaflet edges or toothed edges?
PJ: Sure, all of those variations do exist, and can even be found in a single poison ivy plant. They aren’t the features we look for to make a positive identification. For a positive identification, we look for a leaf that has a head, neck and two arms connected to a torso.
Always look for a leaflet made up of five parts. Following this formula will end the confusion many people have when they look at details of color, shine, size, edge shape—none of which are necessary to positively identify the poison ivy leaflet.
UM: Can a poison ivy leaf be made up of more than three leaflets?
PJ: It’s true that on a poison ivy plant there can be a leaf that has more than three leaflets, but it’s very rare—like finding a four-leaf clover—so don’t let that detail confuse you! For every five-leaflet poison ivy leaf there are 100 three-leaflet leaves on that same plant. So, just look carefully.
UM: Partner Joe, thanks for sharing your experience and explanations with us. I look forward to speaking with you again.
PJ: Nice speaking with you, Umar.