Poison ivy type determines control approach
As warmer weather brings more outdoor activities, people need to be able to identify poison ivy, avoid exposure and eliminate it when necessary.
"Unfortunately, poison ivy can make identification difficult because it occurs in three forms," said Ward Upham, horticulturalist with K-State Research and Extension.
It can appear as a woody shrub, a groundcover or a woody vine, which often looks like a fuzzy rope. Even though the plant always has three leaflets, Upham said the leaves can appear toothed, incised, lobed or smooth.
"There are three methods commonly used to eradicate poison ivy," he said. "These include pulling or grubbing out the plants by hand, cutting off the vine and treating the regrowth, and spraying the plants directly."
The form of the plant should determine the method used to eliminate it. Upham said groundcover plants can be eliminated by using a direct spray or by "grubbing" them out when the soil is moist.
A person should take extra care when grubbing to prevent exposing the skin to oils from the plant. Upham recommended wearing gloves and a long-sleeved shirt and washing both skin and clothes thoroughly when finished.
Direct spray is a common method for eliminating the shrub form of poison ivy. For a woody vine form climbing a tree, Upham recommended cutting the plant off at the base and treating the sprouts after they emerge or treating the freshly cut stump directly. The cut stump treatment should be used only if directions for that are on the label of the herbicide being applied.
Herbicides that can be used to eliminate poison ivy include glyphosate (Roundup, Killzall Weed and Grass Killer, Nutgrass, Poison Ivy and Vine Killer) or triclopyr (Brush-B-Gon Poison Ivy Killer, Brush Killer Stump Killer).