Poison ivy can cause an irritating and painful rash and you should not touch it with your bare skin. Though many people know that "leaves of three" is the tale tell sign of poison ivy, the irritating plant changes color with the seasons. Here's how to identify poison ivy throughout the year, according to Bob Vila:
The shape: "At the base of every poison ivy leaf is a small stem that leads towards the main vine, which houses the poison," says Bob Vila. "When identifying poison ivy, the longer leaf stem usually belongs to the leaf in the middle. Additionally, the leaves are generally twice as long than they are wide and are between 2 to 6 inches long. The edges of the leaves can either be smooth or frayed with teeth or lobes, while the sides of the leaf can vary in symmetry."
Spring: Poison ivy will be attempting to regrow its leaves after losing them in the winter. These new leaves are typically dark red or green mixed red. Unlike more mature leaves, which appear pointy, these may be more rounded at the tips. Look out for flower buds at the base as well. These buds, which appear white or greenish-yellow, and they grow in small clusters and are also poisonous.
Summer: As the leaves mature, they turn from red to green. By summertime, the plant should be almost entirely green. New leaves will continue to grow, however, so there might be a small number of red leaves. The flower buds will be off-white during the summer, and might be hidden by the leaves. Toward the end of summer, these blooms will turn into green berries that grow in a grapelike cluster. Be wary: "Poison ivy will essentially take over the area it's growing in and dominate or weave into the spaces around other plants, making it challenging to ensure you're walking in a safe location," warns Bob Vila. "Poison ivy can also grow up entire walls and trees if not removed. The shapes and sizes of the leaves will vary at this point in their growth cycle."
Fall: Expect the leaves to change colors at the start of fall. At this point, they can look like regular leaves, you will have to identify them by shape. Fall poison ivy leaves may appear yellow, orange or red. The flower buds should be entirely white, with any berries at the plant roots turning from green to white.
Winter: The leaves will turn completely red before withering and falling off the poison ivy plant. Unfortunately, the plant can still grow through exposed roots, which usually appear brown and fuzzy. Without leave, the white berries should be more visible. Caution: these roots can grow onto buildings or around trees and will also cause a rash. Don't touch them with bare skin and double check before leaning against a tree.