Monthly Archives: August 2013

How to Recognize and Remove Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac

There aren’t a lot of common plants out there that can hurt you as a result of something so minor as a single touch, but poison ivy, oak and sumac are more than able to oblige. Come into contact with them and you’ll likely feel the effects quite soon. It’ll begin with an itching which simply will not go away, at least not without the of topical creams or other medicines. This itchy area will eventually develop blisters. Just how severe these blisters are depends upon your level of sensitivity. Those who are more allergic can develop quite serious reactions. Of course, the best thing to do is to eliminate the plants carefully as soon as you see them, or to call upon professionals to accomplish that task for you, but how to identify them? Yes, most poisonous plants do have clusters of three leaves, but is that really enough to make a positive identification. Here are some brief descriptions to help you triumph over poison oak, ivy and/or sumac.

Poison Ivy: Like all the plants on this list, poison ivy is made up primary of three-leaf clusters, though depending on the plant there can be up to nine leaves in all. Generally they are organized in a somewhat triangular shape, with the leaf in the center being longer. It can present itself as either a small plant or as a creeping vine, and can come in a variety of shades, green in the summer and yellow, red or orange in the fall or spring.  Unfortunately, it is quite adaptable, growing easily in sun or shade. The plants are frequently shiny, though they can sometimes be dull as well.

Poison Oak: Not actually a type of tree but rather a small plant similar in size to ivy, poison oak has a similar but noticeably different look. It gets its name from the shape of its leaves, which are rounded like those of an oak tree. It generally takes the shape of the small bush but can also appear as a creeping vine or simply a single plant. It’s generally found west of the Rockies, though it can grow in a variety of locales.

Poison Sumac: The least common plant on this list, poison sumac should certainly not be taken lightly as a result. The plant is every bit as harmful as oak or ivy. It is larger than its counterparts, generally containing as many as 7-13 leaflets on every stem. The leaves are small and smooth, with an oval shape and a pointed end. They are almost always green, but the plant’s stem is red, and it also contains pale yellow or cream-colored berries, making it easier to identify. It is generally found in shrubs which can grow up to 15 feet in height.