Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center

Is This Poison Ivy?

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Submitted by:  Marybeth O'Connor
Date Submitted: 6/3/2003
Location: Southeast Florida, Southwest Broward County

Question Asked: I live in Southeast Florida, Southwest Broward County. I have this massive vine growing up a palm tree outside my window. It has leaves of three, is it poison ivy?

Answer: Hi Marybeth -

You certainly do have poison ivy clinging to the palm tree. Your pictures are fabulous. The key characteristics here that help in the positive id include the white berries, the aerial rootlets that allow the vine to cling to its host, the 3 leaflet leaves with the middle leaflet on a longer stem, the alternating leaves on the vine, the woody vine. The leaf patterns are very interesting here as they vary a little from what we've seen on elsewhere this site. I'll bet the black spots on the leaflets is oxidized urushiol oil. Probably some bugs eating / damaging the leaflets allowing the oil to leave the resin canals.

It's interesting to me to see the regional differences particularly as they relate to the plant development through the season. You already have drupes (berries) on your vines, yet here in northern Virginia most of the vines are flowering or have just finished flowering, and then I have recent submissions from far northern states where the plants are just putting out their spring red leaflets.