Angie's List: Recognizing and removing poison ivy, oak, sumac

If you're heading out with the family this Labor Day weekend, watch out for poison ivy.

First, keep your eye out.

Horticulturists say poison ivy and poison oak look similar but that poison sumac has more leaves.

They also say birds help spread the seeds to these plants because birds eat the berries on poison ivy. So most times you can find these plants under areas where birds hangout.

Be careful when trying to get rid of it by yourself, especially if you try pulling them out of the ground.

"Most of the time it's probably best to put it in a plastic bag and throw it away, but keep in mind that anything that touches it will carry the oil, and you can get the contact dermatitis from the oil," horticulturist Emily Wood said.

If you decide to have experts take care of it, make sure to ask how long it will take, how they plan on killing it and if they will handle it for free if it comes back.

The oil made by poison ivy causes a severe rash, so for that reason, experts say do not burn the poison ivy or use a weed eater or lawnmower to get rid of them. The lawnmowers and weed-eaters  help spread the oil.

That oil can stay on your clothing or garden tools for up to five years.

Keep in mind, some strains of poison ivy plants do not grow in the Midwest.

Poison ivy grows everywhere in the U.S. It's arguably the most common one we run into here.

Poison oak is more of a West Coast problem but is found in southeastern states.

Poison sumac is usually found in swampy areas in the Southeast.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments