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How Can I Remove Poison Ivy Vines From a Tree?

We purchased a foreclosed home that had been sitting empty for almost two years. Apparently, the yard had not been tended for much longer than that. We have an ornamental apple tree (crabapple?) that has poison ivy branches an inch thick growing amongst its branches. I’d like to save the tree, but a professional from a local gardening company advised we cut it down. I’m terribly allergic to poison ivy, so climbing up in there is out of the question. Any tips?

In Poison Ivy and Poison Oak: Identification, Irradication and Home Remedies, Sandra Dark suggests killing poison ivy by hoeing or mowing it. The article also includes several tips for managing an outbreak if you get poison ivy on your skin. But the large poison ivy vine you have on your tree requires a more intensive approach.

Be sure to wear appropriate protective gear: rubber boots and gloves, a hat, goggles or faceshield and long pants. Start by clipping the stem of the vine with a long-handled pruning shears. Then, using a long-handled tool (maybe a channel-lock wrench), pull the stump if you can. If not, hoe off any new shoots as they grow.

The vine in the tree will die after the main stem has been cut. Rake up the leaves after they fall, being careful to wear the same protective gear. Do not burn the leaves or stems, as the smoke can cause severe allergic reactions when inhaled.

In winter, trim as much of the dead vines as you care to, remembering that touching even these dead vines could cause a reaction.

— Troy Griepentrog, senior associate editor

frank k
8/15/2012 5:48:59 AM

Poison Ivy is an incredibly beneficial food source for birds and other wild animals. Not all bad for sure.


steve warner
8/14/2012 3:15:48 AM

In your email picture you show VIRGINIA CREEPER... a harmless vine with FIVE leafelets... hmmmm... poison ivy and poison oak have THREE LEAFLETS and really do not at all look similar in any way except that they are vines... I suggest anyone who believes they know enough to write an article on a topic should be somewhat of a knowledgeable expert on that topic... AND AT LEAST KNOW WHAT THE SUBJECT MATTER LOOKS LIKE.... (and "mowing the poison ivy to remove it"... stupid, stupid, stupid.)


mountain girl
8/14/2012 12:22:26 AM

If the picture that is posted was sent by the person with the question, that is not poison ivy, but a non poisonous vine called Virginia creeper.


robert hopkins
8/14/2012 12:21:36 AM

To my great good fortune, I'm essentially immune to the stuff, so I just pull up the roots and stuff it in bags for my yard waste pick up.


john & virginia ledoux
8/13/2012 10:52:57 PM

Use L V-4 or 2 4-D, otherwise your just wasting your time.


michelle phillips
8/13/2012 10:36:35 PM

I hate to recommend poisons, but you could try Round Up. Spray the leaves of the vine and try not to get any on the tree itself. Round Up doesn't hang around in the environment long, so it's relatively inocuous to the environment. Good Luck!


stacy hager
8/13/2012 7:22:53 PM

This is not going to kill the poison ivy in my experience, it will just grow back. I have yet to find a way to kill poison ivy without the use of toxic chemicals. I am seriously considering getting goats to help me contain the poison ivy on my little farm.