a. Poison Ivy - Poison ivy grows as a vine or as a shrub. The compound leaves of poison ivy have "three pointed leaflets." The middle one has a much longer mini-stalk than the two side ones." The leaflet edges can be smooth or toothed but are rarely lobed (lobed leaves look something like a hand with fingers). The leaves vary greatly in size, from 1/3 inch to just over 2 inches long. In spring, the leaves appear reddish. They turn green in the summer, and turn red, orange, and yellow in fall. Small greenish flowers grow in bunches right where the leaf joins the main stem. The flowers are later replaced by clusters of poisonous white, waxy, plump, droopy fruit.
b. Poison Oak - Poison oak is a widespread deciduous shrub throughout mountains and valleys of North America, generally below 5,000 feet elevation. It commonly grows as a climbing vine with airy roots that cling to the trunks of oaks and sycamores. Poison oak can also form dense thickets. Leaves typically have three leaflets (sometimes five), with the terminal one on a slender mini-stalk, as opposed to Eastern poison ivy, whose terminal leaf is often on a longer mini-stalk, and whose leaves tend to be less ragged and serrated (less "oak like"). Like many members of the sumac family (Anacardiaceae) new foliage and autumn leaves often turn brilliant shades of pink and red.
c. Poison Sumac - Poison sumac is a woody perennial shrub or small tree. It grows from 5 to 25 feet tall, and favors swampy areas. To identify it, look for the fruit that grows between the leaf and the branch. Look for red stems that stay red all year. Leaves grow adjacent to each other and grow in odd numbers totaling 5- 13 per stem. They have a glossy, waxy look and they turn bright red and orange during the fall.