Some people think they have poison ivy because they have a vine growing on some trees or on the ground at home. There are two vines that look a bit similar and are often confused with poison ivy. Do you have either poison ivy or Virginia creeper growing on your property? During the growing season, these plants are easy to tell apart as Virginia Creeper has five-leaflets per leaf and Poison Ivy has three. However, during the winter, distinguishing between the two vines can be more difficult as the leaves have dropped. The reason it is important to be able to tell the difference is that Poison Ivy causes a rash in most people but Virginia Creeper does not. First, let’s cover some facts about Poison Ivy.
– Urushiol is the oil present in Poison Ivy that causes the rash.
– Urushiol is present in all parts of the plant but especially in the sap.
– Urushiol can cause a rash from 1 to 5 years after a plant has died.
– The amount of urushiol that covers the head of a pin can cause a rash in 500 people. The stuff is potent.
– Poison Ivy can grow as a ground cover, a shrub or a vine. We are concerned with the vine in this article.
– Using a chainsaw on Poison Ivy in the winter can release sap which makes a rash more likely. This is worse on warm days where there is more sap rise.
So, how do you tell the two apart? This is actually easy once you know what to check. Look at the aerial roots on the vines of Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper. They resemble hairs on Poison Ivy but are plumper on Virginia Creeper and are about the size of a pencil lead. Virginia creeper does not cause a rash.