The difference between Virginia creeper and poison ivy or oak

The difference between Virginia creeper and poison ivy or oak

Three leaves, so be it. This is the common expression for avoiding collisions Poison ivy And Poison oak – Common poisonous plants found in the Triangle area of ​​North Carolina and beyond.

Virginia creeper It could be a common similar plant that does not produce poison ivy and the skin-irritating poison oak oil. They often grow in the same areas and can be confused with one for the other, so you should get to know both.

NB: Virginia creeper can be Fatal if ingested. Eating the fruit can lead to some horrific symptoms and even death. The grape-looking berries can be black, blue, dark purple or lavender, and are available in July and August in North Carolina. Although the plant will not give you the characteristic rash that comes with poison ivy and poison oak, it is still very dangerous, so you should know how to identify it.

The poisonous plant you are most likely to see in the Raleigh area is poison ivy. Poison oak is commonly found in sandhills, and poison sumac tends to occur in coastal plains and mountains.

The News & Observer spoke with Matt Jones, a horticulturist with NC State Extension, to learn more about these plants in our area.

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak vs. Virginia Creeper

Plant leaves and vines look different. Here’s what you should know:

Virginia Creeper is leaving: “Leaves of five, let it flourish.”

The Virginia Creeper has five leaflets, contrasting with the three leaflets of poison ivy and oak.

“It almost looks like the fingers on your hand,” Jones said.

Virginia creeper.
Virginia creeper. Courtesy of NC State Extension.

Poison ivy/oak vines: “The hairy vine is no friend of mine.”

Although poison ivy and poison oak plants are not completely hairy, they do have “roots” growing from them that can give a shaggy appearance.

Virginia Creeper vines appear more “woody” and resemble tree branches.

Vines also climb by tendrils (as cucumbers do), wrapping themselves around other plants to climb higher and higher. The Virginia creeper climbing vine can reach 50 feet tall, sometimes longer.

Virginia creeper.
Virginia creeper. Courtesy of NC State Extension.

Other forms of poison ivy and poison oak

Jones said the following plants can be confused with poisonous plants:

Sheikh of the fund: This maple family plant has opposite leaves that differ from poison ivy and alternate leaves.

Opposite leaves are paired in a node and grow apart from each other more or less symmetrically, while alternate leaves attach to the stem one at a time.

Poison ivy is commonly found in wooded areas and fields throughout the state.
Poison ivy is commonly found in wooded areas and fields throughout the state. Christopher Todd Glenn J.C. Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University

blackberries: This plant also has three leaflets, but the large thorns of blackberry plants (“thorns”) can help distinguish the plant from poison ivy or oak.

Poison oak.
Poison oak. Courtesy of NC Botanical Garden

You can find more information at the following NC State Extension web pages:

The triangle was asked and answered: What do you want to know?

Do you have a question about something in our community? The News Service’s journalism team and observers want your questions for the Triangle’s Q&A series. Contact us by filling out this form or by emailing Ask@newsobserver.com.

This story was originally published July 12, 2023, 2:19 p.m.

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Kimberly Catodella (she/her) is a service reporter at The News & Observer.

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