How to Kill Poison Oak


Poison oak is a catchall name given to bush varieties of poison ivy as well as to an unrelated cousin to the cashew family. In the southern portion of the United States, the variety classified as Rhus quercifolia is known as a three-leaved vine with hairy clinging protrusions and white leaves. Poison oak is known to secrete a chemical known as urushiol that causes an itchy rash and allergic reaction to many who touch it. Because of this reaction, killing the plant can be a difficult task.

Mechanical Process

Step 1

Pull on protective clothing, including work gloves and protective goggles. Cover any exposed area of skin to protect it from the urushiol.

Step 2

Tape the cuffs of your gloves to the sleeves of your shirt to protect your wrists while working near poison oak. This will ensure that your skin is never exposed.

Step 3

Follow the vine of the poison oak plant back to its crown in the ground.

Step 4

Dig the crown and root ball out of the ground.

Step 5

Wrap the poison oak, root ball and crown in a trash bag before disposing of it to avoid infecting others. Never burn a poison oak plant.

Chemical Process

Step 1

Paint the leaves of the poison oak plant with a systemic herbicide.

Step 2

Trace the vine back to its crown and note the location of the crown.

Step 3

Observe the plant for signs that the poison oak may be regrowing.

Step 4

Paint the leaves of any new growth with the systemic herbicide.

Things You'll Need

  • Work gloves
  • Work goggles
  • Protective clothing
  • Duct tape
  • Shovel
  • Chemical herbicide


  • Poison Ivy and Sumac Information Center
  • How to kill Poison Oak and Poison Ivy
  • Poison Oak FAQ

Who Can Help

  • Poison Oak
Keywords: poison oak, Rhus quercifolia, garden weeds

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.