Is it Safe To Compost Poison Ivy

Asked May 13, 2019, 6:12 PM EDT

Our farm has a lot of poison ivy. We have a Tumblr that we are composting weeds and for our Gardens. Is it safe to compost poison ivy? Also what is the best way to eradicate in the areas around the gardens? Thank you

Prince George's County Maryland weeds compost poison ivy

1 Response

Hi- urushiol, the oily toxin in PI, is extremely persistent. We can't find research-based information on the fate of urushiol when PI is composted using various systems. Presumably, it can be rendered harmless in an aerated system when subjected to sufficient heat for a sufficient time.

We recommend that you don't attempt to compost your PI in a tumbler. You will be increasing your personal exposure and spreading the oil to your composter where the oil could remain for some time. Unless your tumbler is extraordinarily large, it's unlikely that it will reach temperatures necessary to break down the urushiol.

It will take repeated herbicide applications to control large areas of PI. Triclopyr is considered one of the better chemical herbicides for controlling PI, although glyphosate is also effective. Be careful to prevent spray drift.

Please read our poison ivy page, especially the HG#34 fact sheet which includes control information: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/poison-ivy

And this pub from Purdue U.: https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ho/ho-218-w.pdf
Jon