How to spot poison ivy


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When it comes to poison ivy, you've probably heard the rule "Leaves of three, let it be." Well, experts say it's not that simple.

"They can have a smooth edge. They can have a coarsely toothed edge or they can almost be lobed so there's a lot of different forms that that can take. Also, the plants themselves have different forms," explained Horticulturist Ward Upham with Kansas State University.

Poison ivy grows on the ground, in a shrub and climbs trees. It does have three leaves but there are other plants with three leaves that won't give you a rash. So, here's what to watch out for:

  • Three leaflets with the middle leaf on a longer stem
  • The other two leaves are directly attached to the main stem
  • It grows on a brown branch, not a green one

Remember, more than 90 percent of people are allergic to poison ivy, so you and your family are likely to be, as well.

"A poison ivy rash is different from a bug bite in that it will start out just being red and irritated and then blisters will actually raise up and people say those blisters will spread and they must be spreading the oil, but really it just takes awhile for the reaction to occur," said Horticulturist Charlie Barden with Kansas State University.

You can remove the poison ivy plant by pulling it out of the ground or by using herbicide specifically for killing brush. If you are removing poison ivy yourself, remember, the gloves and clothing you're wearing may have the poison on them. The Centers for Disease Control says any clothing needs to be washed separately in hot water with detergent.
Learn more about poison ivy, as well as two other poisonous plants that grow in our area, poison oak and poison sumac.