poision sumac and poision ivy

Asked May 19, 2017, 6:02 PM EDT

how do I rid the lawn of poision sumac?

New York County New York

1 Response

Poison ivy (Rhus radicans or Toxicodendron radicans) and poison sumac (Rhus vernix or Toxicodendron vernis) are different species belonging to the same family. Poison sumac is a shrub or small tree that grows exclusively in wet and clay soils and swampy areas. Its leaves are composed of 7-13 oblong leaflets that have red stems. The leaves may have a reddish tint, especially those at the top of the plant. Poison ivy is a low-growing shrub or vine that has compound leaves with three leaflets that can have toothed, lobed, or smooth edges. The leaves can vary in color from dark, shiny green to a dull, yellow green.

Poison ivy is often confused with Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), another common native vine that also grows as a groundcover and climber. Virginia creeper plants have compound leaves with five leaflets rather than three. Unlike poison ivy and poison sumac, which contain the sticky, resinous, and highly irritating oil urushiol, the leaves and stems of Virginia creeper do not cause a rash and can be pulled by hand without protection.

Because poison sumac grows only in very wet areas, it's most likely that the plant invading your lawn is poison ivy rather than poison sumac.

If there are only a few plants in your lawn you can try pulling out the plants and roots by hand. Be sure to avoid skin contact by wearing gloves, pants, shoes, and long sleeves. Poison ivy plants can develop extensive root systems and can grow back if you just remove the above-ground portion once, so you may have pull the plants out several times over the growing season to weaken the roots enough to kill them.

If the infestation is more extensive you might try glyphosate (Roundup or Kleen-up), a systemic herbicide absorbed through plant leaves that is effective for poison ivy control. Be sure to apply the herbicide only to the poison ivy leaves, since it is a non-selective herbicide that can kill any plant, including desirable nearby species. As with hand-pulling the plants you may have to apply glyphosate several times during a growing season to fully eradicate the poison ivy. Animals including birds relish the seeds of poison ivy plants, and disperse the seeds in their droppings, so you’re likely to seen new poison ivy plants next year.

Follow the links below for more information on poison ivy and how to control it.