Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac

Almost all of us have the potential to have at least two of the woody poisonous plants.  The two most common, Poison Ivy and Poison Oak both have leaves in a cluster of 3.  The leaves may be very waxy and glossy or dull and flat, making identification harder. 

Both Western and Eastern Poison Ivy occur over a large part of the U. S. It can be found as a low growing shrub, a vine along the ground or a vine that climbs to the top of the tallest tree.  Poison Ivy has woody rhizomes which can make it hard to control, it also spreads by seeds.


 Western Poison Ivy              Eastern Poison Ivy 


Western Poison Oak
, also known as Pacific Poison Oak, occurs as a woody shrub or a vine that loses its leaves in the winter.  Birds generally help in the spread, by eating the fruit and depositing in a new location, where over time a single plant may spread over a larger area. 



Eastern Poison Oak, also known as Atlantic Poison Oak, is generally found as a short shrub up to 4 feet tall.  It is found in sandy or drier locations such as open woodlands and pine areas, more common along the forest edge.


Finally Poison Sumac grows in very wet or flooded soils such as swamps, bogs, wetlands and the shore of lakes and streams. It grows as a shrub up to 6 to 15 feet tall. Poison Sumac be the MOST poisonous of them all. 


Control of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac

The first type of control is hand pulling, grubbing or hoeing.  This may be effective but you must get all portions of the underground rootstock.  Don't forget to wear gloves and protective clothes and don't rub your eyes!

First you can prune the plants back and apply ferti-lome Brush Killer Stump Killer   undiluted to the stumps within 45 minutes.  This is the only way to treat plants vining on other desirable plants.

For selective control in turf, or around desirable plants you can spray the ferti-lome Brush & Stump. In turf only, use Hi-Yield 2,4-D.

For non-selective control, spray with Hi-Yield KillZall, which has 2 surfactants and will stick better than most other chemicals.  For a beefed up version and in wet locations, use Hi-Yield KillZall Aquatic.  With this chemical and the others, add Hi-Yield Spreader Sticker to the mix to help it adhere and penetrate those waxy leaves.


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