The poison ivy is out in full force. It seems like everywhere I look, the three-leaved bandit is popping up. There are very few plants that I would like to eradicate permanently but poison ivy is one of them. It’s hard for me to find God’s purpose in poison ivy…it’s a vine that chokes out other plants and it makes whoever touches it miserable. I guess life is full of unanswered questions…
My objective with this post is to make sure that you understand the difference between poison ivy and Virginia creeper. Many people think that they know the difference only to discover that they don’t. I know of a lady that thought she knew the difference and proceeded to work all day removing large established poison ivy plants…she ended up in the hospital several days later and had to be given large doses of steroids…ouch!
There is a saying “leaves of three, leave them be”. That’s the distinguishing characteristic of poison ivy: it has three leaflets.
Virginia creeper has five leaflets, although some juvenile plants can have three leaflets at some point on the vine. But if you keep observing the vine, you’ll notice five leaflets at some point.
If you are clearing overgrown areas of your property in the winter, look out for hairy vines like these.
They are a tell-tale sign of poison ivy. And yes, they carry the same punch in the winter as they do in the summer. If you have to remove poison ivy, the best time to do it is in the winter but you still need to be extremely careful…it’s the oil from the plant that really does the damage. That oil is known as urushiol and it can be spread by direct contact or through the air. NEVER BURN POISON IVY PLANTS! The oil can be dispersed through the air and that is something that you never want to inhale.
So, can you differentiate between poison ivy and Virginia creeper? Have you ever had a run in with poison ivy? Let me know by leaving me a comment below or sending me an e-mail. If you enjoy being part of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening community, join our e-mail list (upper right hand corner of this page), become a fan on Facebook and follow me at Twitter. Happy gardening!