Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Toxicodendron radicans (L.) Kuntze
ANACARDIACEAE (Cashew Family)
EtymologyToxicodendron means poison tree: toxicarius (Latin) = poisonous + dendron (Greek) = tree; radicans, from the Latin for having stems that root, in reference to poison ivy's aerial roots.
Synonyms (Common Name)Poinson Mercury
DescriptionPoison ivy occurs as a low trailing herb, an erect broad-leaved shrub, or a climbing vine in a wide variety of habitats from roadsides to dry woods and thickets to seasonally-flooded wetlands. Climbing woody stems have dense, hairy, aerial rootlets. All parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause painful skin irritation.
Wetland indicator statusFAC
LeavesDeciduous, alternate, entire or with a few coarse teeth, compound leaves with 3 leaflets, 2-6" long; leaflets elliptical to ovate, pointed tips, sometimes with lobe or "thumb," shiny green; terminal leaflet on longer stalk, milky sap; crimson or yellow in fall.
Flower/InflorescenceYellowish-green, tiny, five petals, clusters to 4" long in axils of previous year's leaves.
Flowering PeriodMay-July
FruitBerry-like drupe, small (3/16"), whitish, round, waxy, in clusters.
Fruiting PeriodAugust-October.
HabitatMany, including: roadsides, along fences, dry woods and thickets, seasonally flooded wetlands.
RangeNova Scotia to British Columbia, south to Florida, Texas, and Mexico.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett