Poison Oak

   / Poison Oak #1  


Super Member
Nov 25, 2016
Santa Cruz Mountains CA, Southern OR
Branson 3725H Deere 5105
We have a lot of poison oak. Many large stands, some up to 20' diameter, plus oak in trees that I want to take down. I'm very allergic to it. So far I have been attacking it while suited up in overalls and old clothes, using an electric pole pruner to cut the stems low down. I apply Technu blocker beforehand and wash extensively using Dawn after. If I do it right I don't get too bad of a reaction. I've also used the loader bucket to shove it into a pile, but to do that I need access to one side and a place to shove/pile the PO on the other side. I got a Piranaha tooth bar and that lets me pull the PO around some but I'm still limited to pushing it into a pile. Our land is steep; the places I can take a tractor are limited.

What sort of implement would let me pick it up and carry it off to a better disposal site on my land? It seems that grapples are for larger material. PO vines would slip through the teeth. Tree pullers could grab the PO near the ground and pull it out but wouldn't be able to control long vines while in transit to the disposal area.

Hiring it out to people who are immune is probably the smartest thing but I'm trying to figure out how to do it myself.
   / Poison Oak #2  
I am also allergic to poison oak. I see you are from Santa Cruz - I got into a mess of poison oak over there one summer - hiking. We have a bunch here to - maybe not as much as you do. I will take it out if it is somewhere I may be hiking or need access to but I can't take it out everywhere - so I try to be careful and watch for it. I put on gloves and long sleeve shirt and have a bucket of water and soap handy in case I contact it. With some care you can cut and pull the vines out by hand but you may have too many to do that. There is a brush killer spray the will also take it out - I have used that as well.

A final option may be goats if you are fenced for it and the area is not too large. I have heard that goats will eat it - not sure though.

Sure is not a lot of fun to make contact with it . And BTW, I have heard that inhaling the smoke if you burn it can also cause problems.

I was told once that the phrase "caught red handed" came from a practice in Japan where they would brush on poison oak or poison ivy resin on top of gold leaf in temples - then if someone tried to steal the gold leaf they would have red hands.
   / Poison Oak
  • Thread Starter
I'm only worrying about it in places I want to get in to. There's a huge stand on and on the bank above an old road I want to open up. It's too big to get at with the pole pruner so I went at it with the tractor yesterday. I got maybe halfway across it but the pile is huge now and the tractor's having a tough time pushing it. There's another PO bush in front of and in an elevated kids playhouse the previous owner put in. I want to remove all that as that's where I eventually want to build a shop. That one was small enough that I could cut all the stems with the pole pruner but I still need to push it out of the way. I think I can get the tractor in there and shove it off to the side but if I could haul it off to a better disposal site I'd rather do that.
   / Poison Oak #4  
Hi down there. I'm deathly allergic to poison oak. My first suggestion - go to your local Dr and get PO shots. Years ago when I lived where there is a lot of it - I got the shots and was not bothered with it for an entire year.

Be very careful burning it - I helped the Forrest Service on a wildfire burn and when the fire burned thru a large patch - four of us ended up in the hospital with an intense rash.
   / Poison Oak #5  
Absolutely don't burn it. If you breath the smoke, you can wind up with a serious situation in your lungs. Even if you stand upwind from it, a downwind neighbor might breath it. Or, as oosik said, you can get it one your skin. Just don't do it.
   / Poison Oak #6  
OP -
Have you tried exposing yourself on purpose?

I've a lot of PI around the house. I used be a field Biologist and took ImuIvy which worked great. But they stopped making it :(
But I have also found if I just "contact CAREFULLY" in the early spring with a leaf I don't get affected much.
I rub a fresh leaf on a spot that I can put up with itching for two weeks then I don't get it much the rest of the year.
I'll infect a small spot on my left forearm and just put up with the bother. But I make sure to wash everything else. Not much worse than getting a PI itch in the groin.

Now there is a product called "Oral Ivy".
One reviewer on Amazon wrote:
Years ago I used a product called Imu Ivy (there was also Imu Oak) which came in a packet of four vials and was taken orally once a month.. The local Telephone Company kept it in stock for their linemen. Worked wonderfully and I used it for several years! And then they quit making it.

It doesn't work for everybody, but when it does work it's great.

/edit - now if just eating deer ticks would work :)
   / Poison Oak
  • Thread Starter
I know about not burning it. I'm a former USFS firefighter. In any case it's essentially impossible to burn in my county. Oosik do you know what the shots were? The only ones I can find in a search are corticosteroids which don't last. The oral prednisone I've had to take a few times due to PO has some bad side effects so I would not want more powerful steroid shots unless I was really hurting. I've not tried deliberate exposure or the homeopathic stuff.

But even if I was immune I'd like a way to move the stuff around with the tractor and get it out of the way. Being allergic just means I want to avoid touching it. Any suggestions?
   / Poison Oak #8  
The grapple will move the piles but not do much for taking small vines- especially around other plant you want to keep. I'd get the disposable tyvek jump suits, nitrile gloves with disposable cotton gloves over those. go to town for a day or two until the big stuff is out. Then you will need to stay on top of it with round-up or a commercial bush killer.

By the time you buy a bunch of tools or implements it may be cheaper to hire it done.

As for purposely exposing yourself- I got the shots for several years. Went from being bed ridden with the stuff to normal-below normal reactions.
   / Poison Oak #9  
ericm979 - No, I don't even think I knew what it was at the time. I do know that it wasn't some special, mystical potion because the Dr was well aware of the shots and had them immediately available in our small home town.

I should explain this was in 1958 & 1959 - so in all likelihood that treatment method may have long gone by the wayside. I just figured some form of shots were still available ??
   / Poison Oak #10  
To clarify their are two types of shots. One is used to build immunity. It is typically a derivative of PO. The other is a post exposure shot to help with symptoms. Typically that is a steroid. The other post exposure treatment is an antihistamine- but those are typically given orally.