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Poison Ivy

Toxicodendron radicans

Poison Ivy is a creeping perennial broadleaf weed that is also known as Rhus radicans, Eastern Poison Ivy, Markweed, Poison Creeper, Three-leaved Ivy, Picry and Mercury. This notoriously itchy plant's scientific name is Toxicodendron radicans.

Identify

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Elliptical

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Pinnately Trifoliolate

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Creeping

Poison Ivy does not typically invade mowed lawns but rather prefers shade along fences and 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 broadleaf weed, forming either a deciduous woody shrub or a climbing vine with three 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 produces small, yellowish-green flowers on auxiliary panicles. This poisonous creeper also forms small white berries containing a single seed. These berries typically remain on the stems through winter. Poison Ivy reproduces using these seeds or by creeping root stocks and stems that root where they contact the soil.

Life Cycle

This broadleaf weed grows throughout the northeastern and midwestern United States. As with other poisonous plants in this family (including Poison Oak), Poison Ivy can cause painful irritation and severe allergic reaction upon contact with the skin.

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Control

Small clusters of Toxicodendron radicans plants can be removed by hand but only when the plants are young and lack thick, woody stems. Gloves must be worn, and no part of the plant should contact the skin. Removing larger groupings of this poisonous weed is considerably more difficult, even when using stronger weed control methods. Because Poison Ivy can grow into other woody plants and trees, it is important to use extra caution when applying broadleaf weed killers so that collateral damage to surrounding plants is kept to a minimum.

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