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Is This Poison Ivy?

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Submitted by:  Julian Rawle
Date Submitted: 6/29/2003
Location: Eastern Massachusetts

Question Asked: Hi,

I would very much appreciate your identification of the attached picture before I allow my neighbor to go poison our common area because he thinks it's poison ivy !


What state or area of the country where the picture was taken - Eastern Massachusetts

Your question & any details about where the plant was found (ie. vine running on ground, running up a tree, etc.) - growing in a shady damp corner between the deck and wall of my house

Answer: Hi Julian -

Virginia creeper is one of those plants that is commonly misidentified as poison ivy. To be honest, I'm not quite sure why. I guess the fact that it grows as a vine is why. Anyway, this vine has a 5 leaflet leaf (poison ivy has only 3 leaflets) with all leaflets attaching at the same point on the stem (palmated) and the leaflets are sharply and regularly toothed. Yup - virginia creeper. Poison ivy has irregularly toothed leaflets and the leaflets do not resemble a palm (like the virginia creeper). Now the habits of both plants are similar but if you looked closely, you'd see that virginia creeper attaches via little suction cups on the end of tendrils. Poison ivy employs aerial rootlets.

I hope you can keep your neighbor from spraying the poison. For some people virginia creeper can cause dermatitis so there is a reason to consider removing it but simply pulling the plant should suffice.