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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.

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

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Wednesday - November 11, 2015

From: Ringgold, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: General Botany, Poisonous Plants, Vines
Title: Is Poison ivy always rooted in the ground?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Does Poison ivy on a tree always start at the ground and climb up the tree or can it start producing its vine and leaves by itself at the top of the tree or middle?

ANSWER:

There are three subspecies of Toxicodendron radicans (Eastern poison ivy), all similar in appearance.  Poison ivy can grow as a small shrub or as a vine tightly attached to a tree or wall.  In all cases the vine derives all its sustenance from its own roots.  The many aerial rootlets that sometimes attach the vine to a tree trunk may look as though they penetrate into the tree and extract nutrients, but they only serve to hold the vine to the surface of the bark.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans ssp. radicans

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