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These plants are located alongside a fence in my backyard. What are they?

Ivy near fence Other ivy-like plant

My biggest concern is that they might be poison ivy. However, the plant in the first picture closely resembles a vine that is growing in our front yard and has several single-leaf offshoots. That suggests it is not poison ivy, as I've read that poison ivy always has its leaves in groups of 3.

The first picture looks similar to the second, but I can't tell what it is -- perhaps a juvenile plant of the same species as #2, or perhaps poison ivy.

Does anyone have an idea of what it is? I get a severe reaction if I touch poison ivy, so I'd prefer to err on the side of caution. But the previous owner of this house was a botanist, so we have lots of unusual plants.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

These are two different plants. The one in the second (lower) photo is astilbe, a common ornamental, perennial garden plant; it is not poisonous.

With a number of plants imitating poison ivy in form of leaf, it's difficult to determine what the plant is in the first photo. There is considerable variation in the leaf shape (toothed vs lobed) and surface (glossy vs dull) of poison ivy, so you need to look at other characteristics as well. The leaves of poison ivy occur alternately along the main stem so try and check for that without touching the plant. Also, the central leaflet is usually attached by a short leaf stalk while the side leaflets attach directly (or on much shorter stalks) to the leaf stem. From this side of the computer, it looks a lot like poison ivy to me.

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This looks like Virgin's Bower, aka Clematis Virginiana, to me. It is commonly mistaken for poison ivy. The wikipedia article on poison ivy has a list of plants that are commonly mistaken for poison ivy.

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The leaves have a different texture than poison ivy. They are also more serrated than poison ivy is. I don't think it is poison ivy. I can't say what it is though.

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