When it comes to staying safe from the painful effects of poisonous plants, you need to know the appearance of them. While there are three main poisonous plants to worry about, poison ivy, oak, and sumac, they display some very basic warning signs to tell you to keep away. Poison ivy is the most common of the three plants. It is so widespread that it grows in all of North America, with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, and Newfoundland in Canada.
What does poison ivy look like? Poison ivy is easily recognized by the three leaves rule. A generally accepted rule is that if a plant has three leaves, it is poisonous. However, the shape of the leaves combined with the number of leaves is the true indicator of potential danger. There are many plants with three leaves that are nonpoisonous, and poison ivy can actually have more than the typical leaves of three. This is why it is important to pay attention to the shape of the leaves. With poison ivy, the leaves will be shaped in broad, oval shapes some call spoons. The edges will have an almost jagged appearance as opposed to a smooth one. The color of the leaves can be green or red when the plant is young. In fact, poison ivy leaves can change with the seasons just like nonpoisonous plants and trees.
When identifying potential poison ivy, it is essential to know not just the look of the leaves, but also the forms the plant can take. Poison ivy can grow on the ground like a vine, up walls and trees as a vine, and as a ground shrub. When dealing with poison ivy in any of these forms, remember to look at not just the number of leaves, but also the shape. What if you are dealing with a potentially dangerous poison ivy plant with no visible leaves to alert you to the danger? Many times poison ivy will not have any leaves during the off-seasons when it is not in full bloom. It is still a danger, even without leaves, and being able to identify the vines of poison ivy can help in removal efforts. Be on the lookout for vines with small clusters of white berries or white flowers. In the spring, most vines take on this appearance when preparing to sprout leaves. Even without the presence of leaves, care should be taken to avoid the poison ivy vine.