Poison oak, ivy and sumac

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If you enjoy taking in California’s beautiful nature, you will be wise to learn about the dangers of poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac.  Touching any of these plants could result in a terribly itchy rash that could really give your health insurance a good workout.  Avoiding these plants is always the best idea.  In order to avoid them, you must first know what they look like.

Poison Oak- Grows as a shrub and has 3 small leaflets on each leaf.  It can grow as a vine in the Western parts of the United States, so that is what you would be looking for most.  In some parts of the year, poison oak has small yellow-white berries.

Poison Ivy- Also can grow as either a shrub or a vine which will be hairy in appearance.  It is more commonly seen in the Western states as a shrub.  Like poison oak, poison ivy has three leaflets on each leaf, but they are more pointy and angular than those of poison oak.  Poison ivy may have green berries that turn off white as they mature.

Poison Sumac- Leaves have 7-13 leaflets that grow in paired rows with one at the end.  It can look like a shrub or small tree.  It is usually found in standing water or swampy areas.  The leaves may have blotchy black spots that resemble black paint.  They may also grow yellowish white berries.

If you come across any plants that resemble these on your walk, don’t touch!  To avoid stepping on one and getting the poisonous oil on your skin, always wear protective clothing when visiting nature.  Full length pants, socks and full coverage shoes can help protect you.  If you do get some on your skin, wash it will cool water and/or alcohol to remove the oil.  If a rash appears, call your doctor.



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