Toxicodendron radicans

eastern poison ivy, poison ivy


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Attachment


Leaf Type

compound, trifoliolate

Growth Form

forb, shrub, vine

Flower Color

green, white, yellow

Flower Month

April - July

Height (meters)

0.1 - 40.0

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Warm season

Leaf Retention


Wetland Class


Wetland Coefficient of Conservatism


Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Field Characters

Sometimes confused with the woodland vines Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) which has five leaflets, trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), which has pinnately compound leaves and about eleven leaflets, and box elder (Acer negundo), which is a large tree with pinnately compound leaves with 3-7 leaflets (but seedlings and small saplings have three leaflets in their immature leaves). These leaves are pale green above and have dense hairs in the axils of the veins. Leaves have pointed tips, smooth white fruit, alternate leaves and brown stems.

Animal Use

The following Information for the genus Toxicodendron: Animals that eat its seeds: Bobwhite quail, Wild turkey, Bluebird, Catbird, Black-capped chickadee, Carolina chickadee, Crow, Purple finch, Yellow-shafted flicker, Junco, Mockingbird, Phoebe, Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Fox sparrow, Golden-crowned sparrow, White-crowned sparrow, White-throated sparrow, Starling, Brown thrasher, Hermit thrush, Plain titmouse, Tufted titmouse, Spotted towhee, Warbling vireo, White-eyed vireo, Myrtle warbler, Cedar waxwing, Downy woodpecker, Hairy woodpecker, Nuttall woodpecker, Pileated woodpecker, Red-bellied woodpecker, Red-cockaded woodpecker, Carolina wren, Wren-tit. Animals that eat its leaves and seeds: Pocket mouse, Wood rat. Animals that eat its leaves, stems, and seeds: Black bear, Muskrat, Mearns cottontail rabbit (Martin et al. 1951).

Natural History

Called "herbe a la puce" in Acadian French (Holmes 1990), which translates to "red herb." This may refer to the scarlet tint of the leaves in the fall or the red petioles and young stems. This vine is very poisonous to the touch, resulting in dermatitis in those allergic to it. The old saying that immunity can be acquired is a myth. In fact even those with a natural immunity can become susceptible over time. There is even a reported case of a botanist contracting dermatitis from a 100 year old herbarium specimen. The fumes from burning plants can also be very poisonous. Poison Ivy is common in Louisiana and Texas, being confined primarily to woodlands. It ranges from Canada, south to Florida, and west to Mexico. It is a woodland invader of prairie and decreases under fire management.


Open woods, disturbed habitats.