Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

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

More Vines Questions

Will an ivy vine growing up my maple kill it?
March 23, 2009 - I have a ground cover ivy vine that has grown up my big maple tree. I would like to know if this will kill the tree if left, or will I kill the tree if I take it off? What should I do with it?
view the full question and answer

Vines for fence, safe for horses in California
December 12, 2013 - I live in a fire prone part of Orange County, CA named Silverado and own horses. Am interested in fast growing vines to cover a fenced area which are horse safe. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Need an evergreen flowering vine to cover a fence in Houston, TX.
May 28, 2012 - Looking for an evergreen flowering vine to cover my fence. caveat? one part of the fence is within 5 feet from the air conditioning unit which blows a lot of hot air, the area takes a day or two to dr...
view the full question and answer

Native plants with little sun and northern exposure for New York
April 26, 2006 - I live in a co-op and want to fix up the backyard. The backyard area has a west area to plant with a northern exposure and little sun and I am looking to plant something to cover the area. I would lik...
view the full question and answer

Identification of a vine in El Paso, Texas
November 23, 2012 - I live in Del Rio Texas - Zone 8/9 and I have a vine which can't be identified. It looks like a morning glory white flower with crimson throat, but the leaf pattern is like a 5-7 fingered hand with d...
view the full question and answer

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