Poison Ivy Information


Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is a broad-leaf plant with clusters of three leaves. It can occur as a ground plant, as a leafy vine, or as a large hairy vine that branches out higher up in trees. Poison oak is less common and only occurs as a ground plant. It also has 3 leaf clusters but the leaves are shaped like those of an oak tree. They both prefer to grow in moderately shaded locations. Poison sumac only grows in swampy terrain.

Poison ivy sprouts in spring with green-red leaves. It flowers and regrows leaves. In summer its leaves are green. In late summer to early fall, it produces light green berries that are a favorite snack to birds, which aid in spreading it. In fall, the leaves turn red and begin to fall off. In winter, all the leaves have fallen off and there are only stems and vines left.

Poison ivy Cropped
Poison ivy ground plant
poison-oak Cropped
Poison oak
Young climbing poison ivy vines
Mature climbing poison ivy that branches out high in the tree


Wild blackberry has jagged leaves and thorns. Poison ivy does not. Newer plants have three leaves but eventually grow five leaves.
Virginia creeper has vines that look like poison ivy and will also climb up trees. However, Virginia creeper has five leaves.
Kudzu can be spotted by its larger, more broad leaves and its excessive growth.

Poison Ivy Risks


Most people are allergic to poison ivy. In fact, approximately 85 to 90% of people will develop a rash. Additionally, 10 to 15% of people are extremely allergic. For these people, it is possible to have swelling or difficulty breathing or swallowing. Emergency care may be required.


The oily resin called urushiol is responsible for the reaction. While it is possible to be immune to the reaction, exposure to poison ivy is never recommended. It is common to believe you are immune when you’re actually not. This can happen because of mistaken plant identity. It is also common to not have a reaction on your first exposure. Additionally, it is common for people with immunity to spontaneously develop a reaction after repeated exposure. Furthermore, the oils in poison ivy are highly contagious. Even if you are immune, you can easily spread it to someone else.

Urushiol Potency

Urushiol is extremely potent. It only takes 1 nanogram (a billionth of a gram) to cause a rash. Urushiol covering only the head of a pen is enough to make 500 people itch. 1/4th of an ounce is enough to make every person on Earth itch. Urushiol can stay active on a surface for up to 5 years.

Poison Ivy Smoke

Poison ivy should never be burned. The urushiol stays active in the smoke and can cause severe lung inflammation and even death. Even if the smoke is somewhat contained, it can travel for miles and affect others. Anything that causes urushiol to aerosolize such as burning, weed eating, or lawn mowing is extremely risky.

Poison Ivy Rashes


Rashes typically develop within 12 to 48 hours of exposure or 4 to 12 hours for highly sensitive people. A typical rash will be extremely itchy, red, and have blisters. A rash can last anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks. Highly sensitive people may experience swelling until their eyes are shut, blisters erupting on their skin, difficulty breathing, or difficulty swallowing. In these cases, they need immediate emergency care.


There are two options for poison ivy rash treatment, OTC or prescription. For OTC, we recommend hydrocortisone spray and calamine plus spray. The sprays are quicker to apply and the calamine plus spray has an additional analgesic. You can also take an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen. However, OTC meds are not sufficient for many people due to the persistence of rash, constant need to reapply, and sleep disturbances. If this happens, you can visit a doctor. Doctors will typically prescribe both an oral and topical steroid that is more effective.


Any surface such as clothing, tools, shoes, sheets, and underneath fingernails can be contaminated with urushiol. People commonly believe scratching is what causes the spread of their rash. This is not the case. It is either a contaminated surface or the rash appearing at different rates due to the rate of skin reaction. After the exposure, all surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned. Clothing and sheets should be washed multiple times in hot water.

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Chris BagleyChris Bagley
20:34 30 Apr 24
Micah is super professional and very knowledgeable. He really knows his stuff. Our English ivy was wilting in just a few days. It's a good investment. It was way up in large trees and that stuff can really start choking a tree. I sure don't want them falling on my house!
Josephine NutterJosephine Nutter
15:12 23 Mar 24
I am very pleased with the job that Micah did for us. We have a large naturally wooded area around our home that was being attacked with both poison and English ivy. Micah was first of all polite and manner able, he was also very efficient and timely. In just a matter of weeks we’ve seen lots of dying back of the ivy. We have a 90 day guarantee or he’ll come back and retreat the area. By the look of things we won’t need that. Thanks Micah!
Audrey ReinerAudrey Reiner
11:27 02 Sep 23
I highly recommend Micah and Withered Vines. I had him come out for a poison ivy problem in my yard. He was very professional and was able to answer all my questions. He was able to complete the work the same day he came out for a quote and his prices were very reasonable.
Keith FischerKeith Fischer
14:29 07 Aug 23
We hired Withered Vines for a large and somewhat complex poison ivy removal job. Micah was very responsive throughout and always communicated well. He gave us a detailed quote with various options and walked us through pros and cons. His work was top notch.
Cate BloomCate Bloom
22:20 30 May 23
He was very responsive and actually showed up! Gave me a professional assessment and multiple options. Came out once the job was approved and took care of the poison ivy quickly. Really appreciate it!
Gareth CalkGareth Calk
20:45 19 May 23
Micah was super communicative and prompt with giving me a quote and providing the service for poison ivy at our house. Definitely recommend him for this service!
Gas MasherGas Masher
23:35 01 Aug 22
I received a prompt response asking for a quote using the form on their website. Scheduling was easy and they showed up on time. Price was reasonable and the work was started immediately and finished quickly.Thanks for coming out to spray our field of poison ivy today, Micah. We will follow up if we need additional work.