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Characteristic leaves of three

Poison Ivy growing up a tree

Rhus radicans

Common Name: Poison Ivy
Family: Anacardiaceae

Description:  Found plant can be found as either a vines or small shrubs. Its distinctive three set of leaflets help to distinguish it and let people know to say way. If people come in contact with the plant they will often develop a rash on their skin.
The three leaflets can be either dull or shiny and either have an oval or elliptical shape. They can be dark to light green and have a smooth surface and edges, except for a few hairs on the veins.
The flowers can either be green-white or yellow. They grow in small branching clusters of 25 or more flowers.
The berries are white or grey and 3-5 mm in diameter.
Stem:  The stem is either bushy or it can grow as runners up trees with roots that function in clinging.
Branching Pattern:
Height: When growing in a shrub form it can grow between 5-6 ft tall.
Conditions/Habitat/Kind of Forest: Poison Ivy can be found either climbing up trees or in a shrub form. Both are found in swamps, rocky slopes and roadsides. This plant is well adapted to wide range of habitats. However, it does not tolerate the shade very well and requires moist soil.
Known Wildlife Interactions: The stems and leaves are food for black bears and muskrats. The berries are eaten by a large number of birds.
Range: Found through out Eastern North America, including Quebec south to Florida and as far west as Texas.
Conservation Status-US/ World Wide: Not threatened in U.S. or globally.
Uses (Human): If most people come in contact with the plant and especially the sap, they may develop a very harsh skin rash.


Plants for a Future
.  June 2004.  Accessed: March 28, 2006.  <>

The Pennsylvania Flora Project.  Botany Department, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania.  Accessed:  March 28, 2006. <>

Chadde, Steve W. A Great Lakes Wetland Flora. Pocketflora Press. 2002. pg.86

Newcomb, Lawrence. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. 1977. pg. 330

Redington, Charles B. Plants in Wetlands. Redington Field Guides.1994. pg. 114

 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species <>

This page was created by: A. Coiro, Muhlenberg College
Photos by: L. Rosenberg, edited by N. Smith
Last updated 04/25/06