Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - July 30, 2012

From: Freehold, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Problem Plants, Vines
Title: Poison ivy? vine in NJ
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I have a vine growing among some vegetation in my backyard. It has a leaf with 3 "points" with ridges along its edges. The smaller leaves are reddish which is why I thought poison ivy but definitely looks nothing like pics I have found online. Looks vaguely like a maple leaf but more slender. Please help identifying it. I took pictures but don't know how to upload them.

ANSWER:

Poison ivy is a plant that has a very broad native range in North America and can have a varied appearance in different locations. Toxicodendron pubescens (Atlantic poison oak) looks different than Toxicodendron radicans (Eastern poison ivy) which looks different than Toxicodendron rydbergii (Western poison ivy) and none of the photos look like the poison ivy that I was familiar with in NJ/PA or see in Ontario.  Not to mention that it grows in sun or shade and looks different under those conditions.

I have found in the "north" that the most conclusive identification features for poison ivy are the three leaves with redidsh sepals and stems (and yes, reddish new growth).  Although all the photos in our database show leaves that have notched edges, I have seen it with almost completely smooth leaf margins with perhaps only one notch.  I have also seen it look more like a zig-zag than a lobed edge.

My advice to you is ... if you think it might be, treat it like it is poison ivy.  Spray it with weed killer (using a paper bag or cardboard to protect adjacent plants) or pull it using what I think of as the dog-poop&scoop method.  When I lived in your area and used to find it popping up in my flower beds (the berries are a very important and plentiful food source for birds) I saved newspaper bags especially for pulling poison ivy seedlings as they are narrrow and protect your skin almost up to the elbow.  The plant can be pulled out, the bag turned inside out as you remove it and the whole business disposed of.

Wash your hands (and garden clothes) thoroughly immediately if you think you may have come in contact with poison ivy, even if you have no reason to believe that you might be allergic to it.

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Atlantic poison oak
Toxicodendron pubescens

Eastern poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans

Eastern poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans

Western poison ivy
Toxicodendron rydbergii

More Vines Questions

Evergreen flowering vine for wall in Tampa FL
May 06, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Tampa Florida and am looking for a non toxic, evergreen, profusely flowering vine to cover a wall. It needs to be cold hardy to approx. 20F. Thanks for your help
view the full question and answer

Bignonia capreolata with brown leaves in Pennsylvania
April 24, 2009 - 3 year old crossvine leaves brown and dead looking. Will it come back and bud out? Crossvine on fence southern exposure. Crossvine on fence in another area has leaves and are dark green/purple - sa...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen vine for Lake Jackson, Texas
March 06, 2009 - I have some lattice for privacy that I would like to cover with an evergreen vine or ivy. One is facing to the west, the other to the east. What would you suggest?
view the full question and answer

Control of invasive vine in North Carolina
November 18, 2009 - Hi, I live in Piedmont NC, have vines that twine around my shrubbery and are impossible to pull out of the ground w/o breaking because they are so thin/delicate. The leaves are maple-like (3 lobes), ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering vine for summer sun in Southern California
November 26, 2013 - Hi and thanks for this great site. 1)Southern CA -- South facing wall(lattice on top)total height 7ft with mature Boston Ivy-- Viburnum tinus and Euonymus at base. THE PROBLEM: East 25% (25ft) has b...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.