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Video:How to Identify Poison Ivy

with David Beaulieu

Poison ivy is one plant that you don't want to run into while walking through the woods, or even your yard. See what makes a poison ivy plant distinct from other plants, and find out simple ways to identify that itchy ivy.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Identify Poison Ivy

Hello, this is David Beaulieu, Landscaping Guide for About.com. Today we will be identifying poison ivy, that North American native plant notorious for causing itchy rashes.

Poison Ivy's Three Leaflets

You probably heard the rhyme “leaflets 3 let it be”. Here is an example, as you can see this poison ivy plant has leaflets, 1,2,3. So far so good. However the little rhyme is not the last word on the subject.

Identify Poison Ivy Against Other Plants

Take a look at the plant right next to the poison ivy plant. This is called a bramble plant, it also has leaflets 1,2,3. How do I know it is not poison ivy? This plant has thorns. I know that poison ivy doesn't have thorns therefore it cannot be a poison ivy plant. So you see in addition to knowing that a poison ivy plant will have 3 leaflets its very helpful if you want to be confident in your identification to know about some other features of poison ivy.

Different Types of Poison Ivy

To begin to learn more about poison ivy it helps to recognize that 1 poison ivy plant won't necessarily look just like another. The first example of poison ivy I showed you is a plant growing close to the ground, but poison ivy can become a large vine that climbs high in the trees and over structures. For instance take a look at the building in back of us; its wall is being scaled by a large old poison ivy vine. Notice some things about this vine; first of all the leaflets are much bigger than those on the first plant we looked at, also notice that this vines foliage is beginning to turn its fall colors.

Poison Ivy Colors

They're not very striking on this one but poison ivy can have a very striking fall foliage color under the right conditions, ranging from yellow, to orange, to red even. And in the spring too poison ivy often puts out a colorful leaf that can be either a shiny orange or a shiny red. In the summer it has simply a green leaf.

Poison Ivy Flowers

Also notice on this vine the berry clusters, many people probably wouldn't associate poison ivy with a flower, but poison ivy does in fact put out a flower earlier in the year. Its a rather obscure green and white flower that eventually matures into an off white berry which you see here. Learning of these additional features will make you more confident in your poison ivy identification attempts.

Poison Ivy Stems

One more feature to look at here before we leave, you'll notice that this vine has a hairy appearance to it. The hairs along the stem are actually called arial roots, but the important thing to remember is don't touch any hairy vines you see. Contact with any part of the poison ivy plant can cause the rash that has made poison ivy so infamous.

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