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Is This Poison Ivy?

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Submitted by:  M F in Virginia
Date Submitted: 6/9/200
Location: Arlington, Virginia

Question Asked: What is this vine that I encountered today? I was coaxing plain old boston ivy to climb the chain-link fence in our yard in Arlington, Virginia. In a shady spot, I began pulling out a vine from within the boston ivy on the fence, because though similar to the boston ivy but with maple-like leaves. Then I noticed the leaves of three. I've looked at so many pictures on your site, but I havn't found a close enough match. (I guess I will know in 3 days) Is it possible for a poison ivy vine to have a small percentage of leaves that are only one leaflet as opposed to three? This mystery plant(shown in a card board box)looks like 2 different vines, but I think they are attached!?!

Answer: Hello

What an interesting box of vines. I think that there may actually be 2 vines here - one long and slender, light green in color and one woody in appearance. It looks like the slender one is hanging on via tendrils. The 3 leaflet leaves look to me like Virginia Creeper. Normally virginia creeper is 5 leaflets per leaf but in the guide books and even with a few of the vines I've seen around here, 3 leaflets are not that uncommon. The overall leaflet shape of these leaves doesn't resemble poison ivy which is egg-shapped (fatter at the bottom near the stem. I suspect the other vine is some sort of wild grape.

There is a great picture of poison ivy in our area (yup - I'm not that far from you) here on the site taken recently. Here is a link to that submission: Fairfax, VA poison ivy. Check out the first picture. This is pretty common for poison ivy in our area.