Friday, August 21, 2015

Be Very Careful When You See This

How Poison Oak Looks in Winter Climbing Tree, © B. Radisavljevic

Even though it's summer now, winter is coming. If you live in an area or visit areas where poison oak flourishes, take note of this. During summer and autumn, learn to identify poison oak, and make mental notes of where you see it, especially, in those places you frequent. Poison oak may stand alone as a shrub or you may find it climbing trees or other vines. It is easy to identify most of the year, but in winter, when it loses its leaves it will appear as just bare branches and look like the vines climbing this tree. If you click these photos, they will enlarge.

Wild Berries in Winter,  © B. RadisavljevicSometimes poison oak can be confused with other plants. The berry vine you see to your right shares some of poison oak's characteristics. Like poison oak, it has its leaves in groups of three. They also have a reddish tinge in January. Berry vines often grow right along side poison oak in the wild. In fact, these two photos were taken very close to each other on the same day. At first I thought this was poison oak, until I saw the thorns. Poison oak does not have thorns. Berries do.

So when winter comes, and you see bare vines climbing a tree, be very careful. It is probably poison oak, unless it has thorns. Poison oak can make people break out even if it has no identifying leaves. Even forest rangers clearing trails in winter have been fooled. If you see bare vines along the ground in places where poison oak normally grows, such as in oak forests or along the banks of rivers or at the edges of hiking trails, remember you may be seeing poison oak. Leave the vines alone and try not to step on them. The offending oil can cling to shoes and clothing.

If you do come in contact with poison oak or think you might, Amazon has products that can help prevent or treat an outbreak.   You will be able to read the reviews to see which products people have found most effective.

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