Leaves of Three - Poison Ivy Identification

Leaves of Three? Is It Poison Ivy?

Poison Ivy Identification – How Do I know?

When I am outside clearing up the garden for fall, I try and keep a sharp eye out for any three-leafed plant among the rest of the greenery and fallen leaves. I don’t want to get into poison ivy. That itch that you can get from just coming into contact with the plant is such a torment and lasts for days.  Have you ever run across that little “gift that keeps on giving?”

Poison Ivy Identification - Leaves of three, Let it be

I haven’t recently had the pleasure of getting the rash. ( Well, now I have doomed myself.) But when I have brushed against it in the past, I can itch for days. It is the urushiol that gets on your skin that causes the torment. Urushiol is in the resin of the Poison Ivy plant ( Toxicodendron radicans) and coming into contact with this resin is what you need to guard against.

My husband is not affected by poison ivy. We are so lucky since there are some wooded areas of our yard that have had a lot of it growing. Large twisted vines are attached to the trees and I keep away from them.  My daughter, on the other hand, is very allergic to the urushiol and gets very painful blisters until she is forced to go to the doctor for steroid treatments.

Poison Ivy Identification – Is it or isn’t it?

I have a few characteristics that I look for when I find anything that I think resembles poison ivy.  These are the main things I look for:

  • Three pointy leaves
  • Top leaf has a longer stem, two opposite lower leaves are directly attached
  • Two opposite lower leaves are asymmetrical with the one side closest to the main vine vaguely looking like a mitten.
  • Hairy stems with no stickers/thorns

Here is a video which will help explain those points to watch for on any plant you think may be poison ivy.  And for more posts about my Backyard Flower Garden, click here.

Identifying Poison Ivy - Check for the Mittens!

Rhus Radicans or Toxicodendrons Radicans

This plant is a real pain in the….neck. Any contact with leaves, stems, roots or any portion of the plant can cause the blistering and itching that we are all familiar with seeing after a day in the garden or woods. Sometimes we know we may have been in something suspicious, but other times you just don’t know.  Touch a jacket that was once in the woods and brushed against the plant may transfer the urushiol back on to your skin.

Your pets are not affected ( usually) by the plant, but when they brush against it and get it on their fur, they can bring it in to you. What can you do?  The only thing I know of is to wash off your skin asap and also to wash all your clothing too.  Same with your pet.

Poison ivy identification

Since the resin is hard to remove from clothing and pet fur, the only thing that I have had experience with is  Tecnu Original Skin Cleanser.  This is used by gardeners and hikers and bikers who ride the trails. Because the resin is hard to wash off, you can use this and get the wax-ish resin off your skin, clothes and pets.  It is also available in [easyazon_link identifier=”B01BXZ1RES” locale=”US” tag=”thehypegard0d-20″] individual packets [/easyazon_link] to take along for your convenience. I really feel I have been saved a few times by grabbing one from my work apron.   These are affiliate links and I may receive a commission if you make a purchase through these links. ( Thanks for your support of my website.)

Poison Ivy – What is it Good for?

Even though we really don’t like this plant very much, it does have good qualities. Truly it does.  The berries are food for all kinds of birds to eat during winter when food is scarce. Even deer and rabbits eat the berries and leaves and even gnaw on the barks or stems. So it does support our ecosystem. Bees like these flowers. 

So there you are!  Should you let it grow?  Not in my yard or garden! I have to outweigh the good and the bad. It needs to stay out in the woodlands.  How do you feel?













  1. Susan R Renaud says:

    Thank you so much. The video on identifying poison ivy cleared up a mystery for me. Now I will be able to look for the mitten shaped bottom leaves and know what I am looking at.

    1. Well, thanks, and I think the mitten-shape reminds me to back off just in case. Hate the misery of poison ivy rash.

    1. Thanks so much. I really needed to get it into my head, so I made the video.

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