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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 02, 2009

From: Hockley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Removing poison ivy around live oak in Hockley TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a large live oak in our backyard, estimated to be over 100 years old. I am working on clearing out the brush that is under the tree. Can I spray commercially available poison ivy killer in this area? Will it cause any damage to the tree?

ANSWER:

No and yes. No, you can't spray poison ivy killer around your tree, and yes, it would damage the tree. Poison ivy killer, regardless of what it says on the container, is a broad-leaf plant killer. The live oak is a broad-leaf plant. The poison has no internal instructions to avoid damaging one broad-leaf plant while killing another.

Just killing the Toxicodendron radicans (eastern poison ivy) is only half the battle anyway. As long as the vines and leaves are there, dead or alive, they can cause terrible allergic reactions in anyone brushing up against them.  Poison ivy loves the environment you are describing- shade, protection, similar plants for camouflage, trees to climb, etc. And, it is also distributed by the helpful birds, so you never really get rid of it.

Examine the plants you are getting ready to attack very carefully, and prepare to pull out the poison ivy, if you find it, with rubber gloves that can be washed free of the oils, and paper towels or newspaper to actually pick it up. It can deposit oils on tree bark, leather gloves and clothes and come back to torment you later. Deposit the paper-wrapped vine in a trash bag and don't let anyone reach in there barehanded to push the rubbish down. Cutting it at the ground will, of course, kill the vine that is going up a tree or bush. A good second step is to paint the cut stub (if it's too big to pull out roots and all) with a broad spectrum weed killer. Do this quickly, within five minutes of cutting, because the plant will try to heal itself over before the poison can get to the roots. Some people even try painting some individual leaves of poison ivy with a disposable paintbrush and the weed killer. This is pretty slow, and you must still be very careful not to come in contact with any of the vine and not to let the poison contact any desirable plants.

If you can get to a sink without touching anything, wash the rubber gloves (still on your hands) with dishwashing detergent, get the gloves off and then wash hands, arms or anything else that came in contact with the vine with the same detergent. Don't delay doing this, once the oil is on your skin, it takes very little time to start developing the allergic reaction. 


Toxicodendron radicans

Toxicodendron radicans

Toxicodendron radicans

Toxicodendron radicans

 

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Are globe mallows (Sphaeralcea spp.) harmful to dogs
May 20, 2010 - My dogs eat the wild globe mallow plants in my yard. Could that be harmful to them?
view the full question and answer

Affect of poisonous plant roots in soils for vegetables from Rusk TX
May 11, 2013 - I have a huge old flowerbed in front of my house that I want to plant veggies in, but I'm afraid to. It has a catalpa tree there, which I sell the worms from, but the entire tree (bark, leaves, flowe...
view the full question and answer

Toxicity of barren strawberries
April 30, 2012 - Are barren strawberries toxic? .
view the full question and answer

Thorn in the hand in Benton KY
June 14, 2010 - My husband got stuck by a thorn on a thorn bush and the thorn was a goldish copper color. There is a knot on his hand and pain in his fingers to his elbow. Do you know what kind of bush this could b...
view the full question and answer

Is any part of Mountain Laurel poisonous to goats from Belton TX
May 02, 2013 - We are considering planting Mountain Laurel in a field where we keep goats. Will any part of the Mountain Laurel be poisonous if eaten by the goats? If it would be poisonous, could you suggest some o...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center