Green Circle Growers Blog

Keep Your Child Safe: Identifying Poisonous Plants

Green Circle Growers - Friday, August 21, 2009

Summer camp season is upon us. Before you send your little one off on an adventure, make sure they know how to identify the following plants.

Poison Ivy:

Is a woody looking vine that has very hairy roots. It can climb against a wall or horizontally on the ground, similar to most ivy plants. Be careful when interacting with other plants because poison ivy can grow in between the leaves of other ground plants.

The leaves of poison ivy are used most when identifying it; made up of three smaller leaves compacted into each leaf and with typical berry-like bulbs growing from the stem. Note the berries are not fuzzy but more wax-like. The longest of the three leaves is usually the center leaf. Typically waxy or glossy and very dark green, the bottoms of the leaves are fuzzy and vary in size.

Poison Oak:

While the leaves of poison oak also grow in clusters of three, and are green, they better resemble the leaves of an oak tree than the leaves of ivy. Be aware that the leaves are only green during spring and that during summer, fall and winter they change colors from light green, to pink to red to yellow.

Poison oak generally has fuzzy fruits and leaves, and loves sandy soils and deciduous forests. The poison oak is also more suited for growing in bushes than in vines.

In the eastern part of North America, you are more likely to encounter poison ivy than poison oak. However, it’s better to know the difference, and remember that if it has “leaves of 3, let it be.”