Do I have poison ivy, poison oak, and/or poison sumac in my yard?
June 16, 2010 1:06 PM   Subscribe

Do I have poison ivy, poison oak, and/or poison sumac in my yard?

Mr. Addlepated was doing some yard work a few days ago and now he's a big bag of itchy. Doc said he had poison ivy. A yard guy looked through the wild part of our yard a few years ago and said we didn't have any poison anythings in there, but it seems that might have changed. Can y'all identify these plants for me, please?

Possible poison ivy - 1, 2, 3. It has "leaves of three," but it's not too far from this decorative shrub thing that it resembles quite a bit. Could it just be a young decorative shrub thing?

What's this plant? Some sort of berry plant? It's got this red, hairy/thorny stem. We know we have dewberries in the yard, but the leaves on them don't seem as dark.

Okay, now a ton of suspected poison oak pics. They all appear to have leaves of three. They were all in the area where hubby was doing yard work (see the tools?). And I walked through there a couple of months ago to look at the dewberries and ended up with a welt on my ankle (I thought it was bedbugs, but I'm sort of paranoid that way.)

Poison oak? 1,2,3,4,5.

Mainly we want to confirm what's what so we can (carefully) rip it out and get rid of it and quit worrying about flesh-eating bacteria. Thanks, MeFi!
posted by Addlepated to Science & Nature (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: All your poison oak pictures are, in fact, poison oak. My experience is from Northern California, but I'm quite certain that is the evil plant in question.
posted by huckit at 1:17 PM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: The photos you have linked as poison ivy are not poison ivy (don't know what they are, sorry).

The photos you have labeled as poison oak ARE indeed poison oak.
posted by labwench at 1:17 PM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: The "possible poison ivy" is definitely not poison ivy.

The "Poison oak?" looks like poison oak to me. Here is another picture of it.

I don't know what "this plant?" is.
posted by OmieWise at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: "This plant" is some sort of berry, probably blackberry. They grow wild (in my backyard too). Got berries for the first time this year.

Your "poison ivy" is not poison ivy.

Your "poison oak" looks like poison ivy looks her in Austin. There is so much variation between plants and oak and ivy are closely related, that I think you can definitively state that yous plant contains urushiol
(Having done a good bit of invasives removal around here, I have seen a lot of poison ivy. One plant will contain leaves that look like ivy and others that look like oak. Just avoid it and do not try to identify. Unless you hate your county extension agent, then send him samples. No . . .wait . . . don't do that.)
posted by Seamus at 1:39 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Well, according to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center's Native Plant Database, what we have here in Austin is called both Poison Ivy AND Poison Oak.
posted by Seamus at 1:50 PM on June 16, 2010

Both your "decorative shrub thing" and your "poison ivy" look like forms of Nandina.

Nandina is horribly invasive in Central Texas, so if you car about such things, please kill that decorative shrub. You can see the shrub going to berry. The birds eat the berries and spread the seeds. Given your proximity to the Wild Basin Preserve, even removal of berries before they ripen would help slow the spread of the plant.

(Warning: Natives vs. Invasives is a pet topic. I will happily discuss this for hours on end.)
posted by Seamus at 1:58 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

"this plant" (the one with the 5 sharply serrated leaves) looks like Virginia Creeper to me.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:15 PM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: I take that back. I was seeing the perspective kinda weird, there. I'd go along with blackberries.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:18 PM on June 16, 2010

The plant that everyone thinks as poison oak really doesn't look like the poison oak that I'm familiar with--the leaves are too pointy. *shrug*
posted by mollymayhem at 4:19 PM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: The Wikipedia entry Poison Oak (Tocicodendron diversilobum) shows leaves that look similar to yours.
posted by zippy at 5:03 PM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: I agree that the "poison ivy" and the decorative shrub pics are nandina. We have them in our yard in Texas too. They will grow into a big bushy thing, ugly IMO but not poisonous.
posted by tamitang at 5:35 PM on June 16, 2010

This website has a very good close up of poison ivy and explains to look for the tell-tale longer middle stem.

posted by tamitang at 5:47 PM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: Hmm...guess I can't hyperlink from my iPad. Here's the URL:
posted by tamitang at 5:48 PM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: Those pictures of "poison oak" are NOT poison oak. Poison oak has 3-5 leaflets per leaf. That means each leaf is divided into three leaf like sections coming off a single stem from the main stem. New leaves are bronzy-red. They are not pointed. I've been around poison oak all my life, and that's not it. It does look more like pics I've seen of poison ivy, but that's something I've never seen in person.

Your poison ivy pics are, indeed, Nandina sp.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:57 PM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: Here is Tamitang's missing link: Poison Ivy (NSF sensitive stomachs)

I don't think you have anything to worrry about with your first two plants. The last one looks more like poison ivy than poison oak, but worrying about the difference is just bean-plating. It's one or the other. Be careful with it.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:07 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all. This verifies what I pretty much knew. Funny about the semantic difference between poison oak and poison ivy - seems to me that no matter what you call it, you sure as hell don't want it next to the house! We'll get out there and take care of it straightaway. And hope for berries from the other stuff, if the critters don't get to them first.
posted by Addlepated at 7:43 PM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: Don't know if you're the brush burning type, but DO NOT burn the poison oak/ivy. The oils that make you itchy disperse into the air. Then people like child-me breathe them in, and get bedridden for weeks with poison oak covering their entire body, orifices included.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:16 AM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I wish I could favorite mollymayhem's post a trillion times and make it in 36 point font.

In my never-ending war to eliminate poison ivy from my yard (without herbicides) I have found that paranoia is your friend. I wear long sleeve shirts taped to my gloves. I wear high neck shirts, a hat and a bandanna wrapped around my face. I cover every inch of skin that I can. I pull the ivy using a plastic grocery sack and put it in another. I try to pull slowly and steadily to avoid flying debris. Never mow an area that may have poison ivy in it. After I am done, I throw every stitch of clothing in the washer and wash it twice.

If I were to use herbicide, I would use the same precautions as the dead ivy still has active irritants.

There are products that are prophylactic. I have used Ivy Block but the lack of a rash does not mean the stuff actually did anything. A woman I work with got a major rash even with the lotion on.

You definitely do not want to touch poison ivy, but making the urushiol go airborne is infinitely worse. Take care.
posted by Seamus at 9:07 AM on June 17, 2010

Response by poster: Oh no, no, no burning! It's illegal in our suburb anyway, but there's no way I'd introduce the Black Smoke Monster to our neighborhood. I had in mind much the same method that Seamus lined out - decontam suit, pulling the plant out by its roots, into triple-bagged plastic, then to the garbage can.

I wish there were something that could immediately break down the Urushwhatsit oil so we could compost the stuff, though.
posted by Addlepated at 10:15 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

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