En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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 Problem Plants Questions

Possible allelopathic properties of Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite)
October 02, 2015 - I want to plant a coral honeysuckle at the base of a mesquite tree. Anything in the mesquite that would inhibit the honeysuckle from growing?
view the full question and answer

Removing Persimmon plants from the base of Live oaks
October 15, 2015 - I live in Bastrop county and have hundreds of Texas wild persimmons at the base of my huge oak trees. Should I cut some of them? I am worried they are taking up water my oaks need. I like them but do...
view the full question and answer

Skin allergies; is Juniper the culprit in Simi Valley, CA?
July 21, 2012 - My husband and I have had terrible skin allergy problems this spring (for me it's been 3 years) and think it may be the juniper bushes outside our bedroom and kitchen windows. Is there a fast growin...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating silverleaf nightshade from Albuquerque NM
June 07, 2014 - I have silverleaf nightshade in my yard and would like to eradicate it (yeah, I know, good luck!) or at least control it. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Dead, brown Habiturf lawn
July 07, 2015 - I planted Habiturf seeds last fall and had a good lawn all winter. Now the grass is brown and dead. Did it drown with all the rain we have had? If so, what should I do now? If not, what should I do...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center