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Spotting and Avoiding Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, and Poison Sumac

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Updated June 25, 2014

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Poison Oak and Poison Ivy: Leaflets Three, Let it Be
Poison Oak and Ivy  -  Leaves of Three

Poison Oak and Poison Ivy - Leaves of Three

These two plants always appears nondescript, making victims wonder what exactly gave them the itchy rash a day or two later. With either species, there is one reliable truism: "Leaflets Three, Let It Be."

Poison Oak and Ivy ALWAYS grow their leaves in groups of three. It doesn’t matter if the leaves look like ivy leaves, oak leaves or have a simple oval shape.

Look for the pattern of three leaflets branching from a single, independent stem.

You’ll find two leaves attached directly to the stalk, opposite each other.

The third leaf will jut from between them on a short stem, forming a distinct T pattern. In dry weather the leaves may droop, making the pattern hard to identify.

Photos of Poison Ivy

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