Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Function
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

TOXICODENDRON radicans

Image of Toxicodendron radicans

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Anacardiaceae

Botanical Name

TOXICODENDRON radicans

Plant Common Name

Eastern Poison Ivy

General Description

Poison ivy is the bane of the American hiker, camper, gardener or general outdoors person. The whole plant is poisonous to the touch and induces a nasty skin rash that can be quite severe depending on the sensitivity of the person touching it. This North American native is a common, weedy, deciduous liana (woody vine) that can be found everywhere from moist or dry meadows, woodlands, roadsides or disturbed sites. Its stems produce clinging, aerial roots that help the vine ascend the tallest tree or creep along the ground as a poisonous groundcover. Some even become shrubby.

Poison ivy has three compound leaves, hence the warning, "leaves of three, let it be." The three oval leaflets are deep green, taper at the tips and have coarse, irregular teeth along the edges. When they emerge in spring they are often glossy bronze or burgundy red. In fall, they turn vivid shades of orange, yellow and red. Insignificant yellow-green flowers are produced in late spring followed by dull ivory berries that are eaten with gusto and spread by song and game birds. After the leaves fall, brown, erect stems (which are also poisonous to touch) can be seen. The aerial roots of vine specimens are dense and look like thick, clinging hairs.

Like most weeds, poison ivy will grow almost anywhere. It thrives in both full sun or shade and nearly any soil type that offers average to sharp drainage. Eradicating poison ivy should be done with caution and care. Its poisonous oils are just as potent when plants have been killed by herbicides or hand pulling. This plant should never be burned because the poison will become airborne in the smoke, which means poison ivy in the lungsā€”a very dangerous prospect. Composting is also not recommended. Really, the best thing to do is safely dispose of it in plastic far from where anyone can touch it.

The oils in the stems and foliage of poison ivy are what cause skin rashes. This allergy is only known to affect primates. Pets are generally unaffected but can transfer the oils to their unassuming human master. Many people are immune to poison ivy but become allergic later in life. For more information on the health concerns, visit http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Toxicra.htm .

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 9

  • Plant Type

    Vine/Liana

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    1'-60' / 0.3m - 18.3m

  • Width

    2'-6' / 0.6m - 1.8m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Texas, Canada, Mexico, Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Yellow Green, Gold

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Fruit Color

    White

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Burgundy, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Red, Orange, Dark Red

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Yes

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No