poison ivy

Summer Tips: Identifying Poison Ivy


Warm weather is here (FINALLY) and that means outdoor adventures! Whether you’re planning a trip to your nearest downtown pocket park or headed to the Smokies, environment awareness is key.

So let’s talk about those pesky little three-leaf plants that seem to rub us all the wrong way (literally). Poison ivy, also known as Toxicodendron radicans, is a common threat to hikers, cyclists, and other outdoor enthusiasts. But if you know how to properly ID the plant, you can avoid an itchy situation, an “itch-uation” as I like to call it.

Identifying Poison Ivy:

“Leaves of three, let it be.” Yes, this is true. The poison ivy plant comes with three leaves. But so do many other harmless plants! Learn more distinctive poison ivy traits so you don’t have to avoid the entire forest.

  • longer middle stem
  • pointy tip on each leaf
  • the outer leaves will have a mitten shape (like tiny little green hands with thumbs on the outside)
  • hairy vines (when the plant loses leaves and climbs trees, the hairs are used to adhere to tree trunks)
  • poison ivy plants are a reddish-brown and glossy in the fall (and when they’re new), and green in spring and summer
  • most grown plants still have a hint of reddish brown on the stem and leaf outline
  • some plants have berries. These will be white or cream and slightly fuzzy.

If You Come in Contact With Poison Ivy:

You won’t break out right away, unless you have a serious reaction to the plant’s oils. But take a few precautions to avoid a nasty rash:

  • wash the exposed area with soap and water ASAP, preferably within a couple hours
  • wash clothes in warm water
  • wash anything else that may have been exposed to the plant’s oils (wipe your phone with a cleansing wipe, your water bottle, etc.)
  • don’t scratch! This spreads the oils and causes serious agitation

Take your knowledge to the next level! Take this Poison Ivy Quiz.



Stay safe out there! Nature is such a blessing, and we hope you have only the best time experiencing it.