Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, and Stinging Nettle

Poison Ivy

photo: wallygrom

Poison Ivy, Rhus radicans and it”s close relative, Poison Oak. It grows just about everywhere and so far, it looks like this summer is going to produce an especially excellent crop. The old addage is “Leaves of three, leave it be”, and refers to the 3 glossy or dull green leaflets, 2 to 4 inches long. The leaves are somewhat variable in shape. Poison Oak has more irregular leaves. It produces whitish flowers from August to November that dry and remain for a long time.  In the fall, the leaves take on bright colors –yellow and then turning red. An oil that the plant produces is responsible for varying degrees of irritation from skin inflammation to blistering. You don”t even have to touch it. You can get it from smoke if it is being burned. It is said that even 100 year old leaves can cause irritation.  You may get into it once and not experience any effects, only to be lulled by that false sense of security, get into it later and become such a blistered and scarred, itchy, freak that you won”t want to leave the house. Sometimes people who have been seemingly immune to the exposure will have a bout that will make up for all of the times when they were in it before and didn”t get it.  Absolutely the best precaution and defense is recognizing it and avoiding it. Many times though, the recognition occurs just about the time that you”re in it. There are about a gazillion things that people will tell you to do for Poison Ivy.After you recognize that you”ve been in it, the first reaction seems to be to touch it or scratch it. WRONG. Leave it alone. Don”t touch the exposed area at all, no matter how badly it drives you crazy, until you can wash it. Many times in the summer when you”re outside in the vicinity of Poison Ivy, you will have developed a sheen of sweat on your body. The oil can be transferred to other parts of your body if you rub it and then rub another part. It depends somewhat on your individual tolerance, but some folks have reported that they got it from their pets who had been in it. Also, when you are warm and sweaty, your pores are open and contact will help the oil work its way into your skin. Wash your hands first, then wash the area that has been exposed, then wash your hands again, then go home and take a shower. Plain water works well. Cold water seems to work a little better, because it closes your pores fast. Soapy water or alcohol also work.  In the southern Appalachians and in much of the eastern U.S., there is a plant remedy that works very well. Jewel Weed comes in two varieties, with a yellow flower (Impatiens pallida) or with an orange flower (Impatiens capensis). The great thing about Jewel Weed is that it often grows right next to Poison Ivy and is fairly common along roadsides. The juice of the Jewel Weed can be extracted from the stems or leaves, preferably before flowering, but it seems to work at any time. If you are out in the woods and realize that you have exposed yourself to Poison Ivy, and are able to find Jewel Weed, you are in luck. Crush the stems of Jewel Weed to extract the juice and apply it to the area affected. The juice is somewhat sticky and will stay where you put it pretty well. Some folks have said that tea made from Jewel Weed works as a preventative. To keep a reserve supply on hand.
(oops I should have told you this information is almost jest like Poison Sumac information) Poison Sumac same toxin but the plant looks different

Poison sumac is a shrub or small tree, growing up to nearly 30 feet in height. Each pinnate leaf has 7–13 leaflets, each of which is 2–4 inches long. These are oval-to-oblong; acuminate (tapering to a sharp point); cuneate (wedge-shaped) at the base; undulate (wavy-edged); with an underside that is glabrous (hairless) or slightly pubescent (down-like hair) beneath.


Its flowers are greenish, growing in loose axillary panicles (clusters) 3–8 inches long. The fruits are subglobose (not quite spherical), gray, flattened, and about 0.2 inches across.

Yet another unpleasant plant that you may enounter out on the trail is Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). The long range effects of Nettles aren”t nearly as pronounced as Poison Ivy, but it can cause pretty intense short-term annoyance. Nettles have little prickly hairs that stick in your skin and sting and itch like crazy. Again, don”t touch the exposed area. You won”t have any trouble recognizing when you have just walked through Nettles. As soon as you can find water, wash the exposed area and the discomfort should vanish almost immediately.  There is one good thing though There is a furn that can treat it FAST and it always is with in 50” of them.

You should GOOGLE the plants to look at better picks of them.

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