Leaves of three — let it be! I’m certain that someone has told you this before in an attempt to keep you away from poison ivy. It is true that poison ivy has three leaflets. However, the untrained eye can easily confuse poison ivy with other plant species such as Virginia creeper.
Poison ivy occurs in three forms: an erect woody shrub, a ground cover that creeps along the ground, and a woody vine that will climb trees. It can grow to 10 feet or more as it climbs up trees or fences. All parts of poison ivy — leaves, sap, roots, and burning vines, are poisonous at all times of the year. All of these plant parts contain a toxic oil which causes irritation to the skin on many people. The typical reaction is an itchy rash with clear blisters about 2-3 days after contact with the oil.
As stated earlier, poison ivy always has three leaflets. But the leaf margins can vary. They can be toothed, incised, lobed or smooth. The size of the leaf can also vary. The middle leaflet is larger than the other two and the middle one is the only leaflet with a long stalk. The other two are closely attached to the leaf stem. Virginia creeper has the same habitat as poison ivy and is often confused as being such. However, if you look close, Virginia creeper has five leaflets rather than three.