What is Virginia Creeper?

barb_roselover_inJuly 24, 2005

I have lots of some kind of weed that seems to come up everywhere in my flower gardens. At first I thought it was poison ivy. Upon looking closer, I noticed that it had the same kind of leaves but there were about five or six of them forming a circle, kind of raised up in the center. I am deathly afraid of poison ivy, having a horrible time with it when we moved to the country, so I am leery of handling the stuff. I examined a picture of it on the internet and it sort of looks like that, and it doesn't. Has anybody else had any experience with this stuff? Also, tell me the least chemical way to get rid of it. Thanks in advance. - Barb

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Relax. Virginia creeper is VERY common. It is not even remotely related to poison ivy, though for some reason it gets mistaken for it all the time. It does, however, grow in the same environments as the bad stuff.

Virginia creeper is sold in nurseries in some parts of the country, for it's pretty fall color, and vining habit. There are NO allergy issues with this plant. The least chemical way to get rid of it, should you feel like you have to, is to take it in your bare hands and pull it.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 8:49AM
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phacops(central PA)

I'm not sure what you have, but I'm rather sure that it is not virginia creeper. I have pulled out lots of it over the last few years and can't recall seeing any with 6 leaves, and definitely none with leaves forming a circle. Try this site for a good picture of virginia creeper: http://www.cnr.vt.edu/dendro/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=126

If, however, the plant is virginia creeper it can easily be pulled up. I'll do it barehanded if I'm just touching up a spot, but usually I wear gloves because one does not know what other plants might be in the handfull that I grab.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 2:51PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

poision ivy has leaves of three. virginia creeper has leaves of five. virginia creeper is a native vine that is desirable if you are a native gardener. it has nice fall color and its fruited berries attract birds too. it can be very aggressive and some people do hate it because it spreads aggressively via rhizomes in the right conditions. it also is a vine and will grow up a tree fairly quickly. but it also spreads on the ground too.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 11:43PM
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kimpa(z6b PA)

The seedlings of virginia creeper and poison ivy look similar to me because they both can have leaves of three at this stage. But I now can finally recognize the difference. The first leaves of the VC are larger and rounder shaped. The first leaves of Ivy are shaped like ivy leaves. I bring plastic bags out to the garden with me and use them as a glove to pull ivy then toss the tied bag in the garbage.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2005 at 7:26AM
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Thanks everybody. I have come to the conclusion that it is Virginia Creeper. I was at the library yesterday, and they had a picture of it in one of the magazines--I think Organic Gardening in an article about poison ivy. I truly appreciate all of the information I get on this forum. Thanks again - Barb

    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 5:37PM
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fatso(z5 OH)

Va. Creeper is said to cause contact dermatitis in some people. It is not, however, caused by the same oil that makes poison ivy so hideous. I use roundup on it, it's hard to get the roots out otherwise. Creeper tends to grow in the same environments that poison ivy likes and they sometimes grow together.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 1:04PM
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Hey! This innocent Virginia Creeper has landed me 4 rounds of steroids and one hospitalization. The hospitalization was an anaphlactic reaction where my face, eyes and windpipe swelled an incredible amount. Maybe everyone isn't as allergic as me, but everyone I know that has come in contact with it has gotten a rash at least. But, my it turns a lovely shade in the fall...

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 12:14AM
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I could until recently pull up PI with bare hands but not Virginia Creeper. Will leave water filled blisters where it touches if I don't rinse off my skin immediately. Sometimes even then. One thing I have found about VC is that if you pull on the plant sap can be released by the end of stems and rash will show up in very odd places.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 11:12PM
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My husband and I are both highly sensitive to Virginia Creeper, and break out in a rash within days of coming in contact with the vine if we're not careful. If the itching from the rash wasn't so awful, I would have laughed when I read the post that said, "Relax, it's very common" and "there are NO allergy issues with this plant." Just because it doesn't bother some people, does not mean it's harmless. Although it seems to affect a small percentage of the population, if you're one of them - watch out!

Here's something you may not know; you can be affected by it in the winter. We just found this out the hard way. Last week, on a 30 degree day, we took down a huge, dead oak that had a huge vine growing around it. (Parts of it were the diameter of a baseball! I had never seen anything so large.) Anyway - as there were no leaves (remember this is December) and there were brown tendrils all over, I assumed it was Grape vine. While he was cutting sections of the trunk with the chain saw, I was pulling off parts of the vine and moving the logs to another area to be picked up. Long story short - I was wrong. It wasn't Grape vine - it was Virginia Creeper. He has a rash on the tops of both wrists (between his gloves and his sleeves) and I have a rash on the top of one wrist, the bottom of other and in several places on my neck. (My scarf fell down in front of my face several times, and I re-wound it. I'm thinking that anywhere on my neck that my gloves touched - that's where I was exposed to the insidious creeper.)

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 11:40AM
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Wow. I had no idea that VAC could be so harmful. :( I loved mine because the hummingbirds had a field day with it. I have never seen so many hummingbirds in all my life! I'm not allergic to poison ivy so I guess that's why the VAC didn't bother me either? Not sure.

It's rather ironic too because I'm allergic to metal (I can't even wear hypoallergenic/pure gold earrings even) and have terribly sensitive skin, but not to poison ivy and apparently VAC! Go figure.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 9:59AM
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cheyenne(zone 8, WA USA)

Good Lord! All this sure doesn't sound like my Virginia Creeper, except for all the good stuff! Last fall I was pulling the now leafless vines and a neighbor begged me not to "get rid of it" because he always admires the beautiful red each year. I explained it comes right back and I was just cleaning up for winter.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 10:32PM
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I have a rash on my hands right now. The only thing that could have caused it was Virginia Creeper. This is why I was looking it up on the web. It was the only thing growing on our fence near the gate so, no, there wasn't any poison ivy mixed in. I rooted it out before without any ill effects but this time I just trimmed it away from the gate. I have a rash on my left hand where I was grabbing it and trimming it and on my right where the cut ends touched. It also affected anywhere I had broken skin which leads me to suspect the oxalate crystals more than just the sap like poison ivy. Itchy as all get out. Been suffering for days now. Soaking in Burrow's solution is what gave me relief.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 12:24PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Yes, although Va creeper doesn't have urishiol, (the oil in poison ivy, oak, or sumac that causes the famous rash) it's very common for people to report allergic reactions from it. As well as juniper and nightshade.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 12:53PM
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I am glad to see I am not the only one sensitive to Virginia Creeper. I am covered with blister from my dogs. I found a big patch growing in the dog pen and they were playing in it. I can pull poison ivy out with no side effects but Virginia Creeper is to me like poison ivy is to my husband. I know that some areas Virginia creeper comes under the same category as poison ivy.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 10:24PM
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Aug 13, 2011, kids found the cool berries growing on the privacy fence around the pool. They mixed up pretend cocktails with the berry clusters and pieces of the plants and had a lot of fun squeezing the juice out of the berries while jumping in and out of the pool.
Then, within an hour, two of the 4 were overwhelmed with miserable itching all over. A third had mild itching. The fourth (only boy who wasn't involved as much in the game) has no itching. Too soon to know if there's going to be blisters and rashes, but Virginia Creeper is absolutely NOT harmless to everyone. Birds love the berries though.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 6:59PM
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Matt Webster

I'm now moving into a house that obviously had a great yard years and years ago, but has been neglected for a long time.

I've been poisoning, cutting, and ripping out all kinds of invasives- poisonivy, privet, English ivy, briars of various sorts, and Virginia Creeper/Woodbine. I'm scared of poison ivy because of the horrid reaction I have from it, but so far have no effects from Woodbine.

To remove it, I have just been pulling it out, and it comes pretty easily until I get to the root. When I get to the root, I pull as much of it out as I can, and then spray what's left of the root system with brush killer. It's a lot of work, but only because of the quantity. I don't know if it will come back or not, but I have seen some gratitude already from surrounding plants and plants they were climbing on.

...I could choke whomever introduced it to that yard. Privet & English Ivy too...

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 11:27PM
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Different people have different reactions to many plants, insects, and vapors. Numerous plants can cause allergic reactions in people, it depends on a number of things about that persons immune system. Any allergic reaction is you immune system overreacting to something that you were exposed to, and it can happen to anyone at anytime. For many people Benedril is enough to control the hives that accompany their reaction while others of us need a plastic bubble with HEPA filters filtering the air we breath because we react to about everything.
Those of you allergin free count your blessings, but never discount what someone says causes an allergic reaction in them.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 7:19AM
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"Relax. Virginia creeper is VERY common. It is not even remotely related to poison ivy, though for some reason it gets mistaken for it all the time."

Unfortunately for my five year old helper and me - Virginia Creeper is an issue. We both developed a rash anywhere that we weren't covered. It' s not poison ivy but it does contain oxalate crystals and this is what the dermatologist said caused our rash. It;s been 2 weeks and we still have it - he has been better than good old Mom at not scratching the rash.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 2:03PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

As a family doc, I have seen rashes caused by innumerable allergens, from the common, like bee stings and poison ivy, to the unbelievabl, like Benadryl. Every one should take a certain amount of care when allowing exposure to potential allergens--even the sun can cause rashes. Most importantly is that each person be aware of their own known irritants and do what they can to avoid them. But, please don't let these reactions create fear in you or others that might prevent some one from enjoying a healthful walk in the woods. Just be prepared and call your doctor if you develop a significant reaction. He/she can provide you with an Epipen for possible anaphylactic reactions, or provide you with a short burst of oral steroids to help with rashes,if they are present in multiple locations. Don't let allergies terrorize you into missing out on the good stuff in life.

Martha, MD

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 6:29AM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

Virginia Creeper seeding from airplanes all across the Southern States, wherever it grows, is a recent phenomenon. Why I suspect it's been seeded from airplanes, because my properties that are miles apart they never had Virginia creeper growing there for many years, none. Then last spring 2012 big boom of Virginia creeper on all properties. One would suspect wind, but on the tallest 30 foot palm there was Virginia Creeper growing, but then months later, it's all dried up. Which means the seed came from above, tried to grow on the palm tree and declined. Naturally it does not happen. Why would they seed VC all over? It's known to absorb CO2 and make shade, but it also kills trees by shading and suffocating them. No trees no life. There are certain entities interested destroying life on Earth and controlling food and rain supply. Thus now we get either weeks of rain or weeks of drought.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 3:27PM
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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

Not planes, but something that also flies......birds!

Seeds in poop...........sprout into vines...........

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 4:26PM
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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

Not planes, but something that also flies......birds!

Seeds in poop...........sprout into vines...........

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 4:27PM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

OK, birds. But we always had birds and they always spread the same seeds. We never had Virginia creeper on our properties for decades and then in 2012... boom, big time, even on roofs.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 7:46PM
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Julie Molohon

I realize these post are fairly old, however, I must correct everyone on here that has no idea about how toxic Virginia Creeper can be. First of all, it has the same poisonous oil that Poisoin Ivy has, just not the one you're mentioning. It's oxalate crystals that people can be allergic to. I'm so highly allergic it's not funny. And when I say allergic, I'm not talking about reaction. Some people can roll in Poisoin Ivy, Poisoin Sumac, Poisoin Oak, and Virginia Creeper and have no problems. Not even the slightest itch. Others, can have a reaction, followed by a rash and itching. And then.... There's those of us that are allergic to it. I literally have to head straight to the Emergency Room, to get a shot of Benadryl and prednisone, followed by a week of Prednisone and Atarax. So... Yes...... People can be allergic to it, proceed with caution when handling it. And yes.... It is a beautiful plant, beautiful but deadly, for some...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2015 at 3:36PM
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