How to Identify Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

In summer, the green leaves of poison plants blend right in with other plants and brush, so it’s possible to sit down on a patch of poison ivy and not even notice! Teach your kids to identify poison ivy, oak, and sumac so they can steer clear of them.

Poison Ivy

Can grow as a vine or small shrub trailing along the ground or climbing on low plants, trees, and poles. Each leaf has three glossy leaflets with smooth or toothed edges.

Close up of Poison Ivy growing on a tree

Poison Oak

Grows as a low shrub in the eastern and southern United States. Fuzzy green leaves in clusters of three are lobed or deeply toothed with rounded tips.

Close-up of Poison Oak leaves

Poison Sumac

Grows as a tall shrub or small tree in bogs or swamps in parts of the Southeast. Each leaf has clusters of seven to 13 smooth edged leaflets.

Purple leaves on sumac tree in Autumn

SourceNemours, U.S. Food and Drug Administration