A: You are incorrect, good sir. Two species of ivy are native to Britain: Hedera helix, which we call English ivy, and Hedera hibernica, called Irish ivy. The latter is said not to climb; instead, it sprawls on the ground. Some say that the invasive ivy we call English ivy is in fact Irish ivy. There are ways to tell the difference if you have a microscope. The two have a different number of chromosomes, which prevents interbreeding. Bottom line, it doesn’t matter what you call it; ivy can easily grow out of control and require removal.
Q: I recently chopped down my canna lilies. I have had four days of breaking out in severe rashes all over my body. My doctor prescribed antihistamine and cortisone cream. Canna flowers are pretty, but after this huge reaction, they have to go. Diane Bramley, email
A: You are not alone. I have collected several accounts of people having a bad skin reaction after handling canna leaves and seed pods. It’s not very common and I’m not a dermatologist, so I have no idea what causes the ugly skin welts and rashes. An even more rare skin reaction occurs from handling evergreen passionvine, Passiflora caerulea. The victim in that case of severe dermatitis had festering red splotches on her skin. They did not itch like poison ivy but rather burned and stung at the slightest touch. Your solution to the problem is best: Don’t touch the plant anymore, and remove it from your landscape.
Email Walter at email@example.com. Listen to his occasional garden comments on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for his latest tips.