People go camping for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is to enjoy the outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, strolling, fishing or swimming when we are camping we want to enjoy the great outdoors. There are several plants and animals that we need to watch out for and avoid when we are out in nature. Three of these plants include poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. With a bit of knowledge you can keep an eye out for these and you will know what to do if you happen to come in contact with them. The old adage of “leaves of three, let it be” could be used for poison ivy and oak, but not poison sumac.
Poison ivy is found throughout much of North America, primarily to the east of the Rocky Mountains. It grows in wooded areas, predominantly around edge areas, on exposed rock, in open fields and as underbrush. The identifying characteristics of poison ivy include a cluster of three almond shape leaflets, reddish hairs on the vine and no thorns. If you do come into contact with poison ivy it will cause itching, red inflammation and possibly blistering. To treat exposure, over the counter medicines such as Calamine lotion and home remedies such as oatmeal baths and baking soda can help to relieve the irritation.
Poison oak can be found from Virginia west to Texas and Oklahoma. It is an upright shrub with three leaflet clusters and grows in thickets, forests and dry, sandy fields. Exposure to poison oak causes similar symptoms to poison ivy; itching, red inflammation and blistering. Treatment is also similar to poison ivy, over the counter lotions, oatmeal baths and baking soda.
Poison sumac is the most toxic of the three plants. Contact with poison sumac will cause more lengthy and painful skin eruptions and irritation. Poison sumac is found in wet areas, such as swaps, bogs and flooded areas in the eastern United States and Canada. Unlike poison ivy and oak, poison sumac is found in the form of a small tree or shrub. The plant contains greenish leafs that are oblong in shape with 7-13 leafs per stem. It also has grey fruit or berries.
For more information regarding these three plants visit http://www.wikipedia.com.
- Why does poison ivy cause a rash? (boyslife.org)