Similar plants

Looks like poison ivy

Virginia creeper

Botanical name: Parthenocissus quinquefolia.

It is a completely harmless woody climbing plant widespread in the same areas as poison ivy. However, it has five leaves with a crumpled texture and toothed edges. Unlike , the texture of its trunk is rough with a brown color. I have long believed, wrongly, that it was poison ivy.

Virginia creeper: recognizable with its 5 leaves.

Virginia creeper: recognizable with its 5 leaves.

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Western blue virginsbower

Botanical name: Clematis occidentalis.

It is also a creeping or climbing vine. Its leaves are on opposing sides of the stem: 2 leaves out of each node along the main stem. The leaves are tipped and toothed. Its flowers, larger than those of poison ivy, are white or blue.

Clématite occidentale qui peut grimper un peu partout dans un sous-bois.

Clématite occidentale qui peut grimper un peu partout dans un sous-bois.

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Hog-peanut

Botanical name: Amphicarpaea bracteata.

A vine with three alternate leaves like poison ivy. However, the leaves are drop shaped and have smooth contour. The plant bears clusters of small white purplish flowers. The main stem is fine and thin.

Hog-Peanut, with flowers, rolling up along an other plant.

Hog-Peanut, with flowers, rolling up along an other plant.

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River Bank Grape

Also known as:  Frost Grape.
Botanical name: Vitis riparia.

This vine is common in the United States and southern Canada. It likes the same areas as poison ivy but its leaves quickly reassure us about its identity. The leaves, totally different from poison ivy, are typical of grapes vine: big and toothed.

River Bank Grape or Frost Grape with large jagged leaves. We can see a poison ivy plant right in the middle.

River Bank Grape or Frost Grape with large jagged leaves. We can see a poison ivy plant right in the middle.

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Box elder

Also known as: boxelder maple, ash-leaved maple and maple ash
Botanical name: Acer negundo with 3 subspecies (subsp. negundo, subsp. interius, subsp. californicum).

It is a fast-growing and short-lived tree that grows up to 33 to 82 feet (10 to 25 metres) tall. The shoots have a light green color with a whitish to pink or violet waxy coating. The 3 leaflets are about 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimetres) long with slightly serrated margins. Leaves have a translucent light green colour and turn yellow in the fall. The shape of the leaflets resembles poison ivy but are are thinner. The well-known “flying” fruits of the box elder are absolutely different from poison ivy.

Box Elder, leaves and fruits (Acer negundo) by Agnieszka Kwiecien

Box Elder, leaves and fruits (Acer negundo) by Agnieszka Kwiecien

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Kudzu

Also known as: Japanese arrowroot
Botanical name: Pueraria montana).

Kudzu was introduced from Japan to the USA at the Japanese pavilion in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It is now common throughout most of the southeastern United States and it is spreading year after year. Kudzu has been  present in southern Ontario, Canada, since 2009. This plant is an invasive climbing vine with 3 leaflets, like various poison ivies. Its leaflet has a more round shape and is more translucent than poison ivy.

Kudzu: an invasive vine

Kudzu: an invasive vine

kudzu: leaf with 3 leaflets

kudzu: leaf with 3 leaflets

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Looks like Poison oak

White oak

Botanical name: Quercus alba.

A new white oak sprout or a young white oak shrub under 2 feet (60 cm) high may be confused with and western poison oak. Pay attention. The poison oaks always have 3 leaflets by leaf and the leaflet edge is much less twisting than the white oak.

White oak, young leaves.

White oak, young leaves.

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Fragrant Sumac

Botanical name: Rhus aromatica.

Fragrant sumac is a shrub that can grow up to 2 meters tall and it inhabits mostly uplands areas. It produces yellow flowers in clusters in spring. Its hairy red drupes of fruits are bigger than on poison oaks. Like  poison oaks, the leaves are made of 3 leaflets. One thing is particular to fragrant sumac: the 3 leaflets join the stem at the same point. Pay attention! On poison oaks the ending leaflet is shifted from the other 2 leaflets. The other thing particular to fragrant sumac: the flowers and fruits grow at the end of a short “pine cone like” bud. The leaves and stems of fragrant sumac have a citrus fragrance when crushed, unlike poison oaks.

Fragrant Sumac, leaves and buds, by Bruce Marlin

Fragrant Sumac, leaves and buds, by Bruce Marlin

Fragrant sumac, fruits, by EnviroRunner on Flickr

Fragrant sumac, fruits, by EnviroRunner on Flickr

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Looks like poison sumac

Staghorn Sumac

Botanical name: Rhus typhina.

This shrub is in the Anacardiaceae family like our five toxicodendrons but in the Rhus genus. The form of the shrub, the leaflets’ form and design on the stem are reminiscent of  poison sumac. Thankfully, the typical big red velvet flower  reveals we are not looking at . Staghorn sumac is common in all the northeastern United States.

Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

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Elderberry (American and Red)

Botanical name: Sambucus canadensis and Sambucus pubens.

These shrubs grow to 3m or more  and are common in the  eastern United States up to the St. Lawrence Valley in Canada. The leaves look like poison sumac by their fine and slick shape and their layout on the stem. Unlike poison sumac, the stems are green. Unlike poison sumac, the fruits of the American Elderberry are black and those of the Red Elderberry are red.

American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) fruits. Source: Elbert-L.-Little,-Jr.

American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) fruits. Source: Elbert-L.-Little,-Jr.

American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) leaves and flowers. Source: J.M.Garg

American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) leaves and flowers. Source: J.M.Garg

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