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Box Elder vs Eastern Poison Ivy

These plants, not closely related, are often confused when young because they can both have three leaflets with the middle leaflet on a longer stalk, but they are easily distinguished by leaf arrangement, growth habit, and other characteristics.

Box Elder (Acer negundo)

Eastern Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

A maple with compound leaves, native across North America, coast-to-coast, common in riparian areas and near wetlands.
A perennial woody vine that can cause an unpleasant and dangerous allergic reaction following contact with its sap. Widespread and abundant in much of its range, and highly variable in appearance.
Leaves (sets of leaflets) and branches have an opposite arrangement on the stem. Stem color is variable and may be reddish, but often waxy blue-white.
Photo © Emily Rollinson, Public Domain.
Leaves and branches have an alternate arrangement on the stem. Stem color variable, but more likely brown or reddish, and never waxy blue-white. Aerial rootlets often visible on stem.
Photo © Ira Gershenhorn, Public Domain.
Number of leaflets variable. Although 3 leaflets is common, seedlings may have simple leaves, mature trees commonly have 5-7 leaflets.
Photo © zoedavis (iNaturalist), Public Domain.
Nearly always has 3 leaflets.
Photo © Shawn Treelife, Public Domain.
Free-standing and can grow into a sizeable tree.
Photo © Charlie Hohn, CC BY 4.0.
Vine climbing by aerial rootlets; only grows a few feet tall without support.
Photo © botanygirl (iNaturalist), CC BY 4.0.
Fruit a samara like other maples, borne in pairs.
Photo © botanygirl (iNaturalist), CC BY 4.0.
Fruit a berry, borne in large clusters, waxy and whitish when ripe.
Photo © botanygirl (iNaturalist), CC BY 4.0.