When I was 11 or 12, I could practically roll around in poison ivy and not realize it. I was not allergic then.  

Wow, have times changed!

When I was 11 or 12, I could practically roll around in poison ivy and not realize it. I was not allergic then.  
Wow, have times changed!
This is why it is a good idea to scout your property for this dastardly plant and take precautions in getting rid of it.
Poison ivy is a native woody plant found throughout Kansas.
There are two types of poison ivy in Kansas. The two forms have similar growth habits and nearly identical leaf structures.
One form will tend to be more of a dwarf non-climbing shrub.
The second form can be a small to large shrub, a low-growing groundcover or an aggressive vine.
Thick vines attached to trees with numerous hairy aerial roots probably are poison ivy.
Poison oak and poison sumac are not found in Kansas.


One of the key identification characteristics of poison ivy is the leaf.
Poison ivy has a compound leaf made up of three leaflets.
The individual leaflets can be 1 to 4 inches long.
The middle leaflet is the only one with a long stalk; the other two are closely attached to the petiole (leaf stem).
Leaves can be many different shades of green and may have a glossy leaf surface or a dull surface.
The edges of the leaflets often are smooth but they also can be toothed or lobed.
The same plant can have several different leaf shapes. New leaves often will be a different shade of green than older, mature leaves.
In the autumn, or after being cut or sprayed with herbicides, the leaves develop a beautiful scarlet color.
A common vine that may be found growing with poison ivy is Virginia creeper.
An easy way to distinguish between the two is
Virginia creeper has a compound leaf of five leaflets and the berries are blue. Virginia creeper is not poisonous.


Poison ivy should be removed from areas of the yard people frequent.
This removal should not be attempted by someone who is sensitive to poison ivy.
Using a power mower or weed eater in areas with poison ivy needs to be done with care as sap and sap-covered vegetation can become airborne and land on the operator causing a risk of a reaction.
In areas with desirable ornamental plants, hand pulling or grubbing may be the best control.
This should only be attempted when the soil is wet.
Hand pulling works best on small seedlings before they are very old.
Large vines growing with trees may not be able to be removed without injuring the roots of the trees. Cut the vine at ground level.
The above-ground portion can be removed from the tree.
The cut stump can be carefully treated with a brush and stump herbicide.
Great care needs to be taken not to damage the desirable vegetation with the herbicide.
In fence rows, grassy areas or waste areas, herbicides probably are the most effective control.
Several herbicides are available that offer good control of poison ivy.
Several products are labeled as “poison ivy killers.” Several of these are premixed, ready-to-use products containing the active ingredient triclopyr.  
Glyphosate (Round-up, Kleen-up and others), 2,4-D and dicamba (Banvel) also offer fair to good control of poison ivy.
Once a treatment is made, wait three to four weeks for the product to work before applying additional herbicide.
Label directions need to be read and followed, and great care exercised since these chemicals can not differentiate between poison ivy and other plants.
Follow all safety precautions when using any chemical, and avoid spraying non-target plants.
If you do not feel comfortable trying to control poison ivy yourself, either through mechanical control or herbicides, it is best to hire a lawn-care professional.

Scott Eckert is Harvey County Extension agent, horticulture.