poison ivy on a stump

Leaves of Three…

You know the saying – leaves of three, let it be! Poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans, is a fast-growing deciduous woody vine that produces lush leaves (the leaves will always have three leaflets) that emerge glossy red, become green during the growing season, and then turn into brilliant fall colors of reds, oranges, and yellows.

Poison ivy can be found growing on the trunks of trees, along fences, as a ground cover, or tangled with other plants. If only it would stay out of landscapes and gardens! We can thank its spread by the birds that eat the berries and drop seeds.


So how do you deal with PI?

o It’s best to not touch or handle the plant if you are allergic, even gloves and clothing needs to be handled carefully. The entire plant – roots, leaves, berries – contains a poisonous sap called urushiol that can cause allergic reactions for most people.

o Hand pulling can be grueling – you need to get every bit of the plant, even the roots.

o A non-selective weedkiller can be used with great care when the plant is in full leaf. Always read and follow the label directions.

o Most important, NEVER burn the vines as the urushiol can spread in smoke!

A word to the wise: Even after poison ivy has dropped its leaves, do not be fooled and think it is safe to handle.


Did you know? Poison ivy is native to North America.