Identifying Poison Ivy

Identifying this common poisonous plant native to Ohio can be tougher than you think. Poison Ivy, in particular, can take many forms and Poison Ivy changes with the seasons. Even in the winter this plant can cause contact dermatitis, though most folks get into trouble with this plant in spring, summer and fall.

While the common wisdom of “leaves of three, let it be” does hold true for Poison Ivy, it is not always possible to identify the plant via this method. A good general practice would be to leave any three leaved plants alone. Poison Ivy often has two smaller mitten-shaped leaves on the outsides and a larger leaf with no “thumb” in the middle. The color changes from red in spring, to green in summer, and yellow to orange in fall.

The other problem with Poison Ivy is that while it does often grow as a vine, as its namesake would suggest, it just as often grows as ground cover or in shrub-like clusters. Poison Ivy likes to grow inside other bushes and the vines like to climb trees. Poison Ivy may even have clusters of green to white berries in spring and summer in addition to green to yellow flowers.

When enjoying the outdoors with friends and family be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for this unfriendly plant even in your own backyard.