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Toxicodendron radicans

Previously known as:

  • Rhus radicans
Phonetic Spelling
toks-ee-ko-DEN-dron RAD-ee-kans
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Toxicodendron radicans, or Poison Ivy, is the ultimate weed that no one wants. As the saying goes, “Leaflets three, let it be.”

Poison Ivy is native throughout the United States and much of southern Canada and can be found in a wide variety of locations including dry or wet woodlands, thickets, valleys, clearings, fence rows, roadsides and waste ground. It can appear as a bushy, erect or trailing shrub in sunny areas or as a woody climbing vine. The climbing vines have aerial rootlets. All parts of the plant contain a toxic oil called urushiol that causes significant and long-lasting skin irritations (allergic dermatitis) in most human beings. Infection can occur from direct contact with the plant, indirect contact (e.g., dog, rake or shoes) or from breathing smoke from a fire of plant material. Some humans seem to be immune.

When it grows as a woody shrub, it can reach lengths of 6 feet; when it grows as a vine, it can reach 60 to 150 feet tall and climb high on trees, walls, and fences or trail along the ground. Birds, reptiles, deer, and amphibians can eat the plant and its berries and also use the plant as shelter. A variety of insects feed on the flowers of poison ivy too – from beetles to flies, bees, wasps, ants, and butterflies. Due to its wildlife benefits, it can be left alone in areas with low human activity.

Poison ivy leaves are compound leaflets in groups of three, a trait that can reliably distinguish it from a number of similar native vines. The middle leaflet is longer than the outer two. It’s hard to describe poison ivy leaflets because their shape and size vary from smooth, rounded edges to serrated edges to shallowly lobed edges, but its leaflets are always in groups of three. Poison ivy leaves are shiny, bright green and turn an attractive red or reddish yellow in the fall. The bark is dark gray and densely covered in aerial roots.

Poison ivy can be removed by either mechanical means– such as repeated mowing or pulled with gloved hands– or with certain herbicides applied to freshly cut stumps. Only use herbicide as a last resort.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Do not touch any part of a poison ivy plant. All parts of the plant contain volatile oils that can cause significant skin irritation on direct or indirect contact. Do not burn plant materials because contact with smoke from the burning materials can be just as toxic as touching the plants, and breathing that smoke can be even more hazardous. 

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Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#invasive#poisonous#drought tolerant#weed#wildlife plant#weedy#food source#NC native#food source fall#native weed#perennial weed#weedy vine#bird friendly#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#invasive#poisonous#drought tolerant#weed#wildlife plant#weedy#food source#NC native#food source fall#native weed#perennial weed#weedy vine#bird friendly#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Toxicodendron
    Species:
    radicans
    Family:
    Anacardiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southern Canada, North America to Central America, Central China
    Distribution:
    All United States except Hawaii, California, and Alaska
    Wildlife Value:
    Although this plant can cause severe skin irritations on some people, the fruits are readily eaten by songbirds and woodpeckers.  White-tailed deer and rabbits browse the plant and reptiles and amphibians use it for shelter. The flowers are pollinated by and act as a food source for a wide variety of insects.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Vine
    Weed
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Climbing
    Creeping
    Multi-stemmed
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Each flower is replaced by a drupe that contains a single seed (stone). This drupe is dull white and about ¼ inch across; it has a smooth waxy surface. The large seed is ovoid in shape and dull white; there are a few grey stripes across its surface. The drupes mature during the fall and can persist through the winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Across from the compound leaves, panicles of yellowish green flowers are sparingly produced. These panicles are up to 4 inches long and across; they are often irregular in shape. Each flower is about ¼ inch across, consisting of 5 green petals, 5 stamens, 5 sepals, and an ovary with a stout style. The petals are triangular-shaped and recurved, while the sepals are smaller in size and deciduous.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Entire
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves emerge with a shiny reddish tinge in the spring and turn a dull green as they age, eventually turning shades of red or purple in the fall before dropping. Three leaflets that are pointed often with a notch on the edge. The middle leaflet has a short period or stem and is longer than the outer two. Leaflets can be 2 to 6 inches long and may be toothed or have smooth edges. The stems of the two side leaflets are always directly opposite to each other. The sets of three leaflets are never directly opposite each other on the vine.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Hairy
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The stems are initially light reddish green, but they eventually become brown and woody. The woody stems are often covered with coarse brown hairs, but sometimes they are hairless. As a vine, aerial rootlets develop along the stems; these rootlets can cling to tree bark, fences, walls, and other objects.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Invasive Species
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    All parts of poison-ivy contain resinous compounds called urushiols, the highest concentrations in the leaves and bark as well as younger leaves. When urushiols directly come into contact with the skin or are inhaled via smoke, they cause inflammation, itching, and blistering. The skin irritation is significant and long-lasting for most humans.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Urushiol
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Sap/Juice
    Seeds
    Stems