Gibson Priest

Gibson Priest

Poison ivy and poison oak are actively growing this spring.

Poison ivy (vine form) and poison oak (shrub like form) are common poisonous plants in Georgia. Poison ivy is the cause of many cases of dermatitis (redness, rash, and blisters). Everyone who spends time outdoors needs to know what poison ivy and oak look like.

The leaves alternate on the stem and each leaf consists of three green shiny leaflets. The old saying is “leaves of three, let it be.” All parts of the plant (stem, root, flower and fruit) are poisonous at all times of the year.

The toxic chemical in the leaves is called urushiol. People are often exposed when they brush against the plant and bruise the leaves. It usually takes 12 to 48 hours for symptoms to appear.

If contact with the plant is suspected, wash the affected area with cold water. Several methods exist for controlling poison ivy and oak. Continual cutting, tillage, or mowing poison ivy will eventually get rid of it.

Poison ivy can also be controlled by the application of herbicides (weed killers). Because poison ivy has an extensive root system, several applications may be necessary for effective control. Two herbicides that are effective for the control of poison ivy are glyphosate (Roundup or Kleenup) and triclopyr.

Be extremely careful in spraying around desirable plants since misapplication and wind drift could harm them as well. These herbicides are non-selective, meaning they will cause damage to adjacent plants. When applying any pesticide, read and follow label directions carefully.

If you have any questions regarding poison ivy or oak or other gardening questions, please contact the extension office at 770-749-2142 or email

For more information and details on upcoming events, check out the Polk County Extension office on Facebook by searching “UGA Extension Polk County.”

Recommended for you