How To Identify Poison Ivy

Last updated : 25 November 2014

I hope you enjoy and learn from my Poison Ivy Video.  My new property has more than it’s fair share of Poison Ivy and I am highly allergic.  This is going to be a challenge, but I’m not one to be deterred easily so I’m sure I’ll trudge ahead and pay the price later.

I know there are people who get really confused trying to identify Poison Ivy, or maybe you’ve never actually seen it or knew what you were looking at.  If this video some how prevents at least one person from getting  a major out break of Poison Ivy, then this video was worth doing.  Enjoy the video.  -Mike

I added another post on how to get rid of the poison ivy after you have identified it!  Click HERE!


  1. Charlie says

    Thanks for helping people with the identification issues. It is good for all of us to be aware of these noxious plants. I used to live in Michigan, and could ID poison ivy, but a few years ago, moved to Oklahoma and learned the hard way that the Virginia Creeper that grows here is just as noxious as poison ivy! Most Okies don’t know about the three leaf version! I am very susceptible to the resin of all these plants, so I tried using the new skin wash, “IvyBlaster”, to wash away the resin, urushiol out of the skin and it helps the body heal the rash. I use it everytime I get an “itch”, including bug bites, and have been able to stop the rash everytime within hours. The pretreatments are good to use, and need to be re-applied often, but if they fail and the rash appears, IvyBlaster is the best!

  2. robin says

    I found it the hard way, myself:( I found out that once the oil is on your clothes and you then touch the spot on the clothes, you can get reaction from that as well. I noticed that it has also some golden red berries on the vines–stay away from all of it.

    When I see it, I cover up!! I keep thick cowhide gloves that go up to my elbows on hand in a plastic bag and I’m quick to get them out when I see the stuff. The reaction will last for a month and oh what agony!!!

  3. Cindy Conley says

    Thanks for the vidio MIke! I have some virgina creeper growing up the side of my house and thought it was poision ivy. So glad it’s not, but now I can get rid of it without being afraid to touch it. Is that your new tractor I see in the background??? Looks like a Kubota?? I’m so envious :)

  4. Eva says

    In colder weather you may not see the leaves and a way to recognize poison ivy is this “Hairy rope… stay away, Dope!”

  5. ANN BECKER says

    Posion Ivy can be sprayed with a mixture of 1/2 water and 1/2 Bleach any kind. Plants coated with the spray takes it into its system to the roots and will eventuallly kill the plant. Repeat sprays may be needed. Do in the hot weather so the plant absorbs the bleach mixture quicker. Cover your body, long sleeves, long pants, with no bare skin, TAKE CLOTHES OFF AND PUT DIRECTLY INTO WASHER. Put yourself into bath wash head to toe and add a cap of bleach to your water as Debra Belk suggested. If it rains start all over as the rain can dilute the bleach. this is the cheapest way to get rid of the poision plants, ivy, oak ,sumac etc, Commercial mixes work well , but are more expensive. Mike you are the most thoughtfull gardner to think of helping others who get really confused trying to identify Poison Ivy EVEN AT YOUR OWN RISK! My son is HIGHLY ALLERGIC and has to go to the hospital and then get shots later. WE FOUND THIS METHOD AFTER READING LOTS OF BOOKS AND SO FAR WE HAVE NOT HAD ANY PROBLEMS. THIS METHOD KILLS THE PLANTS AND IS ECO FRIENDLY!

  6. The Tinker says

    I have scars from it, there is no instant cure, ” SO DON”T GET IT”.
    being a hunter, in the woods a lot I have found I’m not the only one that has a problem with it .
    By the way if you burn it the smoke is as bad as rolling in it.
    when you know you are going to be in it, pack a bag with “rubbing alcahol ” soap and water.
    when you break for lunch, wash FIRSTwith the rubbing alcahol, THEN with the soap and water.
    wash all exposed skin, wear gloves if you wish but I don’t recamend it, they reinfect you with the oil when you touch yourself or when you put them on and off. wash when you come out for the day or at any break you take that you will be touching any part of your body or eating food or smoking, Internal infection can kill you from suffication and fever.
    the Alcahol will delute the oil on your skin and the soap will remove it. I have used an axe to cut poiison ivy from trees to build deer stands in the spring and summer wearing short sleeve shirts and beleave me it works.
    also if you eat the new pink leaves of the virginia creeper in the spring it will help you from getting the rash from poison ivy so bad. but it takes years to build up the resistance in your system.


  7. Karen says

    I am allergic to BOTH poison ivy and virginia creeper and have to say the virginia creeper has a worse rash than any ivy I’ve ever had. Now our local nursery has warnings on the creeper that some folks are indeed allergic to it….just wanted to let people know it isn’t harmless to everyone!

  8. Joan says

    Thank you so very much! I am highly allergic to poison ivy too and just shared your video with my husband to help him identify it so he can hopefully rid our property of it. Best wishes to you.

  9. Cliff says

    If you are in the yard & know you came in contact, wipe the affected area with a solvent such as naptha, toluene, gas or diesel and then wash with Fels Naptha. Wash all clothing that comes in contact.
    Roundup won’t kill it. You need the salt in “Poison Ivy Killer” or mix it with Roundup.
    Nasty stuff. I get blisters just looking at it.

  10. Anonymous says

    I’m not sure if you have Poison Oak there, but the plant that you filmed and mentioned had a little serrated edge to it but you thought was poison ivy, I’d swear was poison oak. It travels up tree trunks like that and looks exactly like that, slightly jagged edges and all. I grew up in California and there’s a lot of it there. I’m so lucky to have settled in coastal Oregon now, and we have NO poison oak….I can hike with abandon. Thanks for the tutorial on ivy though, I’m not sure if we have that or not. I’ll be on the lookout.

  11. kathy says

    I know poison ivy and I know virginia creeper. I have been trying to kill the virginia creeper in my yard for about three years. Most of it is gone. I just pull it up everytime I see it. Is there a better way –without buying a weed killer. I live on an Island and my yards are 80 percent dune grass. I’m trying to get it to 100 percent dune grass.

  12. f battista says

    thanks mike for your information video on poison ivy . im sure you help more then one person identify this plant and stay clear off it. i know all about this plant had 3 very bad encounters with it . like you said it hides on you like a snake in the grass and its on you before you realize it . if your working in tall grass stop at your local drug store and get a bottle of ivy block gel. shower it of at the end of a work day. good luck

  13. Don says

    Hi Mike,
    I appreciate the artical. The 3 leaf plant you described in the artical I have idenified in the past as poison oak & a 5 leaf plant simulative to the one you descrbed as poison ivy for years as I also am very alergic to them both. I have fortunately been able to stay clear of the rash & itch for several years now. No discredit to you intended but the 5 leaf plant & the 3 leaf plant that I have will cause me to break out & is making me itch just thinking about it.
    Thanks Don

  14. Kat says

    Thanks so much for the video! I’ve never seen Poison Ivy, so this was really helpful. I live in fear of this plant, because I’m sure with my sensitive skin I would be highly allergic and have a horrible time with it, but now I’ll know what to look out for. We’ve enjoyed your new videos; great addition to your page.

    Thanks again!

  15. rebecca peterson says

    Thanks as always Mike~~i work a few hours at a nursery/outdoor cafe and do some of the upkeep around the grounds. I actually got into some while cleaning beds and didn’t really know it until MUCH later. It was pointed out to me at a later time and my reply was, “wow, i knew I’d started scratching on my inner arms a few weeks ago, but was clueless as to why”. Well, fortunately, I must have a slight resistance to it, cuz I only had a few little blotches/welps and itched mildly for about a week and that was it. Your video is definitely a big help!

  16. Randi Simon-Serey says

    This was really helpful! Seeing artwork of the vine is not the same as your pointing out details, especially comparing it to Virginia Creeper.

  17. Nancy says

    This was very helpful to me. I’ve been killing Virginia Creeper thinking it’s poison ivy. Thank you very much.

  18. dana says

    thank you !! I got into poison ivy this spring and oh my!! I have alot of virginia creeper also, so thank you for showing and distingishing between the two. Very informative – I love what you share with all of us out here.

  19. Harry says

    Be careful when you’re burning off land also. My granddaddy got into the smoke one time and almost died. They had to rush him to the hospital and do a tracheodomy on him. The land he was burning off had poison ivy and poison oak on it.
    That poison oak is tough stuff to kill. I’ve sprayed it and sprayed it, and it still comes back.Have you got any suggestions on how to kill it out for good ?

  20. B Harris says

    Thank you for the poison ivy video. I’m in my sixties and never knew how to identify the nasty, but beautiful stuff.

  21. Mike says

    I can’t wait to show this video to my son-in-law.
    As an outdoor neophyte he needs to learn this because we have ton’s of poison ivy in Louisiana.

  22. Ian Waxler says

    Wow.. I never saw that smooth leafed variety… a big shock after 1/2 century of stomping in woods… Would be nice to do the extremely, extremely common varmit POISON OAK next!! …

  23. Debra Belk says

    FYI Mike…when we were children, we never got poison ivy even when we worked or played in the woods. My mother’s secret was Clorox bleach. She always put a cap full of bleach in our bath water. I have continued that treatment to this day and I am 50 years old. If you come into contact with poison ivy (or even think you have) put a small amount of bleach in your bath water and scrub your skin thoroughly. It kills the resin. You can shower as usual afterwards if you are concerned about smelling like bleach. It really works!

  24. Deb says

    Your tutorial on poison ivy was very good! I appreciated the fact that you actually took us into the field and saw what it looks like growing instead of just showing leaves. \
    I myself am not allergic but my husband is very much so! This has helped me to find and destroy what I can around our property so that he is safe when he does yard work.

    Thank you very much for your hard work, considering that you also are very highly allergic!

  25. Sheri Parker, SW NH says

    Hey, Mike.

    Thanks for this Poison Ivy identifier reminder. (I became allergic last year for the first time at age 51!)

    Would you be willing to say about how to get rid of poison ivy, sumac and oak at some point? I know burning is NOT a good idea at all. Any help would be great!

    Thanks! Sheri

  26. Tim says

    My siblings used to get into poison oak when we lived in Oakland, CA during WWII. They suffered quite a bit, but I never “got” poison oak. One time, when I was just four years old, my eight year old brother and his friend picked me up and threw me into a bush/patch of poison oak. I grabed a branch of it and chased them for hours. Sweet revenge!

    Many years later I talked my wife and daughter in to walking with me up a small mountain near San Luis Obispo, CA. On the way down I passed through acres of the stuff with no problem for me. I advised my family to take a long shower in cold water and wash thouroughly and then hot water and wash again. It worked until the wife put their clothes in the washing machine. She used up about a quart of calamine lotion on her arms all the while using some rather strong language describing me and all my ancestors.

  27. hr says

    On poison ivy the first two outward leaves are very close together on the stem. The middle leaf”s stem is noticeably longer. The new leaves at the start of the vine. are small and get larger as the vine grows longer .

  28. THOR LEBLANC says


  29. chris says

    Thanks for the Poison Ivy lesson. My husband always gets it and now he knows what it looks like and hopefully will keep away from it. I always when I have been exposed to the Ivy wash with dish soap (like Dawn) and then rinse with cider vinegar. So far I have not ever had Poison Ivy even though I was pulling it up by the roots one early Spring and it finally dawned on me it was the ivy so I did the wash and rinse of above and never got it though I should have been covered with it. Also there is Homeopathic medicine that helps with Allergies to the Ivy. Read about it and see if it could help you so you wouldnt be so allergic. Worth a try since most of England and all of Europe swear by it. Thanks again.

  30. Laura Carmichael says


    Thanks for the video. It cleared up a lot of confusion regarding what poison ivy looks like. Thanks again!


    Laura Carmichael

  31. Frank Cassianna says

    Thanks Mike for getting in harms way, I appreciate your videos and your knowledge. I’m retired and recovering from back surgery. Thinking of starting something in my backyard, but money now is an issue. So, I’ll be saving up for your re-design of your growing business

  32. Jan says

    Thanks so much! I didn’t really know what to look for! Your video is a winner…. and so are you! Thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Jeffery Batson says

    Thanks Mike, living her in North Carolina, we have a lot of the poison ivy, but growing up in Chicago I was never exposed to it and no one around me has ever pointed the stuff out to me. I will show this video to my neighbor to give him some education. Always with respect, your friend.

  34. Judy Stroud says

    THANKS! I have the creeper all over some front shrubs, couldn’t Round Up for fear of killing the bushes and was afraid to pull it out, even though I’m not allergic (first time for everything). I appreciated the video.

  35. Chris Lawson says

    I really enjoy your short videos. I am just starting out gardening and have a lot to learn. I definately need to be able to recognize poison ivy since I am surrounded by wood. Thanks for the great information.

  36. Donna Hill says

    My prayers are with you! We bought 2 1/2 acres 4 yrs. ago and half of it is wooded (a mountain!) and at the woodline was a lot of poison ivy. I am very allergic to it too, and I did get it. I sprayed it with two different poison ivy killers (Roundup and I think one made by Ortho) and got most of it the first year. Got the rest of it the second year. I’ve since walked in the woods without getting it but I don’t really know how long it takes for the dead vines to become harmless. Best of luck with your new property and your “mission” against that stuff. Be careful! Thanks for all your tips, too. I really enjoy them.
    Sincerely, Donna Hill

  37. MonikaWood says

    Thank you so much for this video! I am very allergic to poison ivy have been all my life. We just moved on a new piece of property in the country and have had to clear the land as we go. I have been hospitalized for contact with the poison ivy. This video was great to show my children so they will see exactly what it is because even them coming in contact can contaminate our home. Also people please be aware that burning poison ivy can be very dangerous to your neighbors if they have a poison ivy allergy. The fumes of the poison ivy oils can get into their lungs and cause anaphylactic shock quite quickly. I know this from experience. Thank you Mike for making this video and putting yourself in harms way to educate people of this vine!

  38. beachdogkeith says

    If you burn it, be very careful not to breathe the smoke. Poison Ivy can inflame your lungs and give you a very serious problem up to and including death for those that are highly allergic.

  39. Christine L Meyers says

    I am also very allergic. You are too kind to stand that close to show people what it is!
    Hope you did not get any! Thank you for your website and all the information you share.

    • Frank S says

      I am also very allergic to poison ivy. What has helped me thru the years is after I have done weed wacking, wood cutting etc. is to (as soon as possible) get in a cool(not hot water) shower and use dawn dishwashing soap on a wash cloth. Also use a nuckle brush on your hands(in between fingers, etc.) forearms etc. lather up well and let the dawn stay on your skin for awhile so that it can get the oils of the poison ivy off your skin. Again please use cool water. Hot water will open your pores and let the poison ivy oils in. Scrub up real good and don’t miss any parts of your body, exposed or otherwise. Hope this helps…P. S. Mike keep up the good work on your videos, their GREAT!

      • Jeanie says

        Washing in a cool shower with a detergent is key to getting the oils off your skin. But be careful not to scrub too hard with your fingernails or a brush. This can make small breaks in the skin and introduce the oils into the next tissue layer which can cause a more serious reaction and even an infection. There is a difference between a reaction and being truly allergic as in an antigen/anti-body response. Most people have a reactive dermatitis which is the redness, blistered skin, and itching. Some people additionally have swelling, difficulty breathing and an exaggerated irritation of the skin and may even travel systemically to other parts of the body which would be the allergic reaction. Some argue that this reaction is from the oils being introduced into the bloodstream from breaks in the skin, ie. itching or scrubbing too vigorously or from inadequate removal of oils from your hands as you itch various body parts. As a nurse I’ve cared for people who have inhaled the burn pile smoke and have had serious problems with their lungs.
        I love reading the posts and watching the videos. Thanks for your webmails!

      • LORRIE C says

        I am also allergic to poison ivy and have alot around my home in Indiana.I have learned to wash up in rubbing alcohol after exposure and I do not break out then.Also have washed with lye bar soap and it works too.Thanks for all the tips!

    • Albert says

      Mike… That’s not poison Ivy… it’s called Virginia Creeper, a close relative of Poison oak.. It does happen to produce the oxylates crystals that cause the reaction in so many people.

      I don’t know how to post a picture to this forum, but I’ll send a picture of poison ivy if you will show me how.

      • Karen Kimble says

        Even though the first plant was Virginia Creeper, do not be misinformed, Virginia Creeper can give you a rash as well.

        Best solution for a big patch is a goat! They love to eat that stuff!

      • Julia says

        he showed the difference in Virginia Creeper in another or possibly same video. It has 5 leaflets and yes it does scare people. Just remember this quote: leaves of 3 let it be


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