Poison Oak | Archives | Aggie Horticulture
Poison Oak

1. Q. I have an area which I have just cleared. Poison oak sprouts have popped up everywhere and are so thick that I won't let my children play back there. Is there anything I can spray these sprouts with to kill the poison oak and not damage the trees under which they are growing?

A. Poison ivy and poison oak grow abundantly most parts of the United States. Each year, the harmless looking vines and shrubs cause nearly two million cases of skin poisoning serious enough to require either medical attention or at least restricted activities.

The identification of poison ivy or poison oak is simple. Simply look for the characteristic three leaflets. Virginia Creeper is frequently mistaken for poison ivy, but can be distinguished by its five leaflets compared to the three of poison ivy. The three leaflets growing in a group attached to a common stem will be your warming that it is probably poison ivy or poison oak.

Plants may take on several forms. They may grow as a woody vine attached to trees or other objects of support, as trailing shrubs mostly on the ground or they may be erect woody shrubs growing entirely without support.

Spring is a good time to control poison ivy and poison oak plants. Chemical weed killers (herbicides) offer the best and safest method of control. Formulations containing glyphosate (Roundup, Ortho Cleanup, Green light Weed-Away) will do a good job of eradicating both poison ivy and poison oak. Poison ivy sprays with phenoxy herbicide are also good. Use with extreme caution. Always use herbicides on a calm day when no wind is blowing, and never allow the spray to contact desirable plants. Repeat spray if required.

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