En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - April 22, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Dealing with poison ivy
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Suggestions for eradicating Poison Ivy? I have just a small growth in my backyard. Thanks -

ANSWER:

Eradicating? Isn't going to happen. Controlling? Yes, you can do that, but it's not a one-off operation. Toxicodendron radicans (eastern poison ivy) is easily and continuously spread by birds, who like the berries. They eat the berry, it's processed through their digestive system, and they return it to the earth with some fresh fertilizer, no charge. Poison ivy is very good at camouflage and disguise, as well. It needs shade and moisture, so what better place than under an ornamental bush or tree that you are watering and caring for? It can climb trees, concealing its stems in the bark, with dark green leaves that blend right in. You really can't risk using an herbicide, because there's no way to keep from zapping the ornamentals you have painstakingly planted. Some gardeners have tried "painting" a few leaves with herbicide, but this is still pretty chancy.

So, here is our recommendation. You'll need rubber gloves (like you use for dishwashing) and paper towels or newspaper, plus a plastic trash bag for disposal. Scout out the roots, and with gloves on and a piece of paper towel wrapped around the roots try to pull it all out. As you pull it out, keep the stems away from you, wrap it in paper and put it in the plastic bag. We have heard that washing skin that has been exposed to poison ivy, very quickly, in dishwashing soap will help. What we do is wash our hands, with the rubber gloves still on, in the dishwashing liquid. If you feel your clothes have come in contact with the poison ivy, take them off very gingerly, trying not to touch any of the oils from the ivy, and get them straight into the washing machine. This may sound very elaborate, but anyone who has ever had poison ivy dermatitis will tell you it's worth it.

Toxicodendron radicans (eastern poison ivy) is deciduous, but even dormant plant material can cause problems if it's touched. The best time to attack it is in the early Spring, when the whole plant should be easier to get out. It takes many different forms, although the rule of "leaves of three, let them be" still applies.


Toxicodendron radicans

Toxicodendron radicans

Toxicodendron radicans

Toxicodendron radicans

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Pruning the leaves of Sago Palm.
March 10, 2010 - Is it a cardinal sin to remove all the sago palm branches? This winter they were so badly scorched by the cold that hardly a frond went unaffected. So I cut them all off as I needed to get around the...
view the full question and answer

Member of Taxus genus native to southern Illinois from Granite City IL
July 12, 2013 - Is there a native Southern Illinois similar to Taxus baccata? I live in Granite City IL and am looking for a native plant/scrub that stays green year round about 2-3 feet tall to it helps insulate the...
view the full question and answer

Wintering over an Angel Trumpet in Kentucky
September 20, 2008 - I have an Angel Trumpet on my deck in LaGrange,Ky -Can I plant it out in the yard now or do I have to take it in the house for the winter- It is 5 feet tall and I have no room in the house! Help!-Than...
view the full question and answer

Is there a vine in Indiana with poisonous thorns?
December 27, 2011 - I was cut at the left big toe by a brownish/red thorny vine while tracking thru dry grass near the bridge exiting 278. I'm from Indianapolis, in 46208. Was wondering if I was exposed to a poisonous v...
view the full question and answer

Are palm tree thorns poisonous?
January 27, 2012 - Almost 3 weeks ago I trimmed the fronds of my pygmy date palm. The tip of a thorn was stuck in my finger. I pulled it out. The side of my finger is still very painful and my finger is swollen. I c...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center