Every region in the United States has the potential to have at least two of these woody poisonous plants.

The two most common, Poison Ivy and Poison Oak , both have leaves in a cluster of 3. The leaves may be very waxy and glossy or dull and flat, making identification harder.

Western Poison Ivy (Image 1) and Eastern Poison Ivy (Image 2) both occur over a large part of the U. S. They can be found as a low growing shrub, a vine along the ground or a vine that climbs to the top of the tallest tree. Poison Ivy has woody rhizomes which can make it hard to control. It spreads by seeds.Western Poison Oak (Image 3) also known as Pacific Poison Oak, occurs as a woody shrub or a vine that loses it’s leaves in the winter. Birds generally help in the spread by eating the fruit and depositing in a new location; over time a single plant may spread over a larger area.

Eastern Poison Oak (Image 4) also known as Atlantic Poison Oak, is generally found as a short shrub up to 4 feet tall. It is found in sandy or drier locations such as open woodlands and pine areas, and more common along the forest edge.

Finally, Poison Sumac (Image 5), grows in very wet or flooded soils such as bogs, swamps, wetlands and the shores of lakes and streams. It grows as a shrub 6 to 15 feet tall. Poison Sumac may be the MOST poisonous of them all.


The first type of control is hand pulling, grubbing or hoeing. This may be effective but you must get all portions of the underground rootstock.  Don’t forget to wear gloves and protective clothes and don’t rub your eyes!

You can prune the plants back and apply ferti•lome® Brush Killer Stump Killer, either concentrate or RTU with brush in the lid, or Hi-Yield® Triclopyr Ester undiluted to the stumps within 45 minutes. Both can be used for selective control in turf or around desirable plants by spraying. When spraying add Hi-Yield® Spreader Sticker to the mix to help it adhere and penetrate those waxy leaves.

For non-selective control, spray with Hi-Yield® KILLZALL™. To condition hard water, stabilize the mix and improve adhesion, add Hi-Yield® Herbicide Enhancer. For a beefed up version of Hi-Yield® KILLZALL™ and in wet locations, use Hi-Yield® KILLZALL™ Aquatic. With this chemical add Hi-Yield® Spreader Sticker to the mix to help it adhere and penetrate those waxy leaves.