Poison ivy, oak, and sumac leaves

Leaves of poison oak, sumac, and ivy

Poison oak has leaves that look like oak leaves, usually with three leaflets but sometimes up to seven leaflets per leaf group. It grows as a vine or a shrub. Poison oak is rare in Canada, but it can be found in remote areas on the east coast of Vancouver Island and some nearby islands.

Poison sumac has 7 to 13 leaflets per leaf stem. The leaves have smooth edges and pointed tips. Poison sumac grows as a shrub or small tree. It is found in wooded, swampy areas, such as southern Ontario and southern Quebec.

Poison ivy usually has three broad, spoon-shaped leaves or leaflets ("Leaves of three? Let it be!"), but it can have more. It may grow as a climbing or low, spreading vine that sprawls through grass (more common in southeastern Canada) or as a shrub (more common throughout Canada, especially the Great Lakes region).

The colour of these plants may vary throughout the year. For example, poison oak may turn red in late summer and the fall.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD, MMEd, FRCPC - Emergency Medicine

Current as ofOctober 5, 2017

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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