Chances are, you’ve either had a run-in with Poison Ivy or you know someone who has. It’s nasty stuff. Also known as Rhus radicans, Eastern Poison-Ivy, Markweed, Poison Creeper, Poison Ivy is a creeping perennial weed that can be found throughout the northeastern and midwestern United States. As with other poisonous plants in this family (including Poison Oak), Poison Ivy can cause painful or itchy irritation and severe allergic reaction upon contact with the skin.
Identifying Poison Ivy
Though Poison Ivy doesn’t often grow in lawns, it is found around home landscapes, typically in shrub beds, along fences, rock walls, or in wooded areas. If you suspect Poison Ivy in these areas, do not touch it or try to pull it out by hand.
Poison Ivy can be a climbing or trailing perennial, forming either a deciduous woody shrub or a climbing vine with 3 leaflets. On older plants, Poison Ivy’s aerial roots give the stems a hairy, fibrous appearance. Its leaflet stalks are short, except on the middle leaflet.
Poison Ivy features small, yellowish-green flowers. This poison creeper also forms small white berries containing a single seed. These berries typically remain on the stems through winter. Poison Ivy reproduces by these seeds or by creeping root stocks and stems that root where they contact the soil.
Poison Ivy Control
Small clusters of Poison Ivy plants can be removed physically, but only when the plants are young and lacking thick, woody stems. Gloves must be worn and no part of the plant should contact the skin. Herbicides will kill Poison Ivy, but will also kill all other plants the herbicide contacts, so use care if spraying. Once dead, gloves should still be worn to remove.
If you suspect Poison Ivy in your yard, take a picture and send it to us using this email form.