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Is This Poison Ivy?

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Submitted by:  Chris Wilson
Date Submitted: 5/13/2003
Location: Alabama

Question Asked: Hello. These are photos I took of a suspicious vine growing in my backyard. In this photo, I know the 5-leaved plant to the right is Virginia Creeper. Can you identify the 3 leaved plant in the center? I have several patches of this plant growing in our yard in full sun. (If it helps with identification, I live in Alabama.) I've been very careful not to touch it, so I don't know if it will produce a rash. Thank you!

Answer: Hi Chris,

Good picture - thanks. It does help me immensely where the picture is taken. While Virginia Creeper seems to be everywhere, plants like poison oak are not.

On to your question, the key clue as to why the vine is not poison ivy is that the leaves are opposite. What that means is that pairs of leaves are opposite each other on the vine. Poison ivy leaves are alternate off the vine. Also, notice on the set of leaves closest to the virginia creeper, that there are 5 "sets" of 3 leaves on one stem. This is another tip-off that this is not poison ivy.

I'm not familiar with this vine but my first impression is clematis. Anyone else?