Toxicodendron pubescens

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Toxicodendron pubescens
Toxicodendron pubescens FI.jpg
Photo by David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, hosted at
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicots
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Toxicodendron
Species: T. pubescens
Binomial name
Toxicodendron pubescens
Natural range of Toxicodendron pubescens from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common Name(s): poison oak[1], Atlantic poison oak[2]

Taxonomic Notes

Synonym(s): Rhus toxicodendron; T. toxicodendron (Linnaeus) Britton; T. toxicarium Gillis; T. quercifolium (Michaux) Greene


T. pubescens is a dioecious perennial that grows as a forb/herb, shrub, or subshrub.[2] Leaves are alternate, trifoliate and lobed. It can grow up to 10 ft (3 m) in height but is more commonly 2-4 ft (0.6-1.2 m).[3]


Toxicodendron pubescens can be found from Long Island, NY south to north Florida, west to eastern Texas and inland to West Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kansas.[1]



This species is very common in sandhill and upland pine communities but can also be found in dry woodlands and dry rock outcrops in the Piedmont and mountains.[1]


T. pubescens flowers from March through May and fruits from August through October.[1][3] Flowers are yellow and inconspicuous. Fruits are greenish white and 0.25 in (6.4 mm) in diameter.[3]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by consumption by vertebrates. [4]

Fire ecology

A study in southern Alabama showed burns in the winter and spring produced a greater percent occurance of T. pubescens. Burns in the summer reduced the percent occurence.[5] However, it is common in research plots in native upland longleaf pine communities burned at 2-5 year intervals in May-July.[6]

Use by animals

T. pubescens consists of 10-25% of the diet of large mammals and 2-5% of the diet of small mammals and terrestrial birds.[2] Humans are studying the homeopathic abilities of Toxicodendron pubescens dilutions in anti-arthritic and anti-inflamation treatments.[7]

Conservation and Management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Weakley A. S.(2015). Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Herbarium.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 USDA, NRCS. (2016). The PLANTS Database (, 21 December 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Plant database: Toxicodendron pubescens. (21 December 2017).Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. URL:
  4. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  5. Kush J. S., Meldahl R. S., and Boyer W. D. (2000). Understory plant community response to season of burn in natural longleaf pine forests. in Moser W. K and Moser C. F. (eds). Fire and forest ecology innovative silviculture and vegetation management. Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference Proceedings 2:32-39 Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL.
  6. Robertson, K. 2017. Pebble Hill Fire Plots long-term research project, unpublished data. Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, Tallahassee, Florida.
  7. Patil C. R., Rambhade A. D., Jadhav R. B., Patil K. R., Dubey V. K., Sonara B. M., and Toshniwal S. S. (2011). Modulation of arthritis in rats by Toxicodendron pubescens and its homeopathic dilutions. Homeopathy 100(3):131-137.