Poison ivy can occur as a vine, climbing trunks of trees or along the ground, or it can grow in large patches as an upright shrub. The glossy, three-leaf arrangement can be toothed, lobed, or smooth. Fall color is red.
Whenever you work with poison ivy it is important to keep your skin protected with long-sleeved shirt and pants and heavy disposable gloves. Exposure to large concentrations of poison ivy can cause reactions in people who are not normally allergic. After cutting, wash pruners and saws thoroughly.
Small seedlings can be hand pulled by putting a plastic bag over the plant and removing the plant, or digging up the seedling. It should be discarded in the trash, do not burn or compost.
For larger plants, you may need to resort to a chemical. Systemic herbicides are absorbed by the plant and translocated into the roots. Registered chemicals for poison ivy contain the active ingredient triclopyr and glyphosate. These chemicals are best used when the plant is growing actively. Because triclopyr kills broadleaf plants and glyphosate kills all vegetation be careful when spraying near desirable plants. Be aware that dead poison ivy plants can still give you a rash.
For areas with desirable plants or when growing in ground cover, wear rubber gloves and use a disposable brush to paint the chemical on the leaves. Do not let the painted leaves touch the ground cover.
For a large vine clinging to a tree, cut a 4-inch section out of the stem and paint the chemical on the open cut. Let the top die back and remove it carefully at a later date.
Again, always wear protecting covering and wash immediately after working around poison ivy.
Poison ivy Management
Poison ivy leaves in summer (photo credit: Sharon Yiesla)
Poison ivy in early fall color (photo credit: John Hagstrom)