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14' tall free standing poison ivy shrub ?? #183907 - Ask Extension

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14' tall free standing poison ivy shrub ?? #183907

Asked May 21, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

I have what looks like poison ivy and possibly oak too, growing all over a property I just bought in the Dallas area that had been abandoned for 5 years.
I've already sprayed about 10 gallons of roundup, which has been working.
Problem is, upon walking a new fence line yesterday, I found what looks like giant poison ivy shrubs.
These are free standing shrubs, growing as high as 14' tall.
I googled poison ivy and read that in freestanding form, can get as tall as 4'.
I can't find any reference to it growing 4 times that size.

I've seen poison oak grow into it's own "tree", but these are smooth leaves, pretty sure not poison oak.

Can you please look at my picture link below, and confirm that this really is a "Jurassic park" form of poison ivy?  - and if so, is this normal?

I've been spraying roundup with a pump garden sprayer, but all I can think of when seeing stuff like this is the line from the movie Jaws... "I think we're gonna need a bigger boat". 

Rockwall County Texas

Expert Response

Wow!  I am not going to say you have the record for the tallest poison ivy, but it is spectacular.  From the pictures I would agree, it is poison ivy.  I am hoping the you are not allergic.  If so you will need someone to come in and remove it for you.  There are a couple of things I would suggest.  First, the plants, looked clean enough that you could possibly get loppers to the trunk of the plants.  if so start there and cur them off.  This will obviously stop any more top growth.  In a couple of weeks when new growth starts to come out, you would then want to make a herbicide application.  Glyphosate will work - that's the active ingredient in RoundUp,  or you may rather use a product that has the ingredient triamec in it.  Using a rotation of these products will help to kill the plant. Following is an excerpt from one of our publications:

Poison Ivy In The Home Landscape


Large vines on trees should be cut off both at ground level and again a few inches upwards, to ensure that a complete cut has been made. The base of the cut may be painted with Roundup, brush killer labelled for poison ivy, or another of the glypholysates. Watch for regrowth, and spray again with brush controller as new leaves appear. Take care that contact is not made with poison ivy roots while digging nearby. They are just as potent as the leaves and stems. It may take up to a year or more before the roots stop resprouting, sometime as much as 15 feet from the base of the vine. The small fruits of poison ivy are known to provide food for at least 75 species of birds, especially wild turkey, bob-white quail, ruffled and sharp-tailed grouse, and ring-necked pheasants and mockingbirds.

Not that you care about the food it produces, but just information on how it spreads as well.  So make your cuts, but be careful.  The oils in the poison ivy are what usually cause allergic reactions.

Make sure when putting on the herbicide that the use caution with as little wind as possible.  Just a little pesticide drift can do damage you do not want.  After killing it, I would suggest to let it be as long as possible as the oils (urushiols) can still be active.  I would recommend waiting until the fall and possibly a freeze to remove the stems from the fence or make sure whomever is doing is as no allergic reactions to it.

•When exposed to urushiols (pronounced you-ROO-shee-all) the reaction usually progresses in three stages.
– (1) A day or two after contact the infected area begins to itch and becomes red from the dilation of blood vessels. Swelling (lymph leaking from the blood vessels) also occurs.
–(2) Two days later, small blisters filled with lymph begin to appear.
–(3) Lastly large blisters burst and begin to ooze for about four days.

Even if one is not allergic to poison ivy, then can be a skin irritation.  So use all care with it.  Do not burn, mow or shred it as it will release those oils into the air.

Something else you will want to know is the treatment for your clothing.

•Remove clothing and put in plastic bag (do not mix with uncontaminated clothing)
•Launder exposed clothing immediately
•Dry Clean or Launder according to clothing labels
•Notify dry cleaning store of contamination
•Poison resin can remain active on clothing for up to 2 years so clean thoroughly.

I hope this helps.  I have witnessed it up to 12 feet on stems and much higher in trees with beautiful fruit,  but again what is beautiful in this situation.

If you have more questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 972.204.7660 we have 24 hour voice mail.

Todd Williams Replied May 21, 2014, 6:12 PM EDT
Thanks so much Todd.
I read and read and never heard of free standing poison ivy more than 4 or so feet, which is why I really questioned this.
But sounds like I bought into Jurassic park!

It's not just this one stand alone plant - it's more like am orchard.
There lots more like this, and vines with giant leaves coming down from tall trees, and even the grass has small P.I. plants coming up all over.

Crazy because it's a residential house and yard, not a never field that's never been developed.

You make me almost want to preserve it and watch it get even bigger if it's so spectacular!

In anyevent, I already applied the 1st dose of roundup to it, hoping it loses leaves enough to get closer and hit the top with a ladder.

I'm not sure I have the courage to actually touch the bark/trunk to carve a ring...  But I will definitely look/read up on the techniques you suggest.

THanks again

P.S. - I've attached another picture of a more "reasonable" poison ivy shrub (barely 4' tall) that I already killed with 2 bouts of roundup.  This was a few weeks ago before I walked this new fence line and found they 14' monsters I asked about...
The Question Asker Replied May 21, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT

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