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How To Identify Poison Ivy, Poison Oak or Poison Sumac

I knew what I was in for when I left deer camp a day early. Before going home I went directly to the Doctor. The receptionist looked at me and said, “I’ll get you in ASAP.”

“Thanks,” I replied, and I meant it.

A nurse took me to a room and then the Doctor came in. I had already removed my shirt. The Doctor looked at me and shook his head. “That’s bad,” he said, but you should’ve seen the guy that was here last year. It was the worst Poison Ivy I’ve ever seen.”

The nurse pointed at my folder, “Doctor, this is him.” And she was right.

Three years before I had found a new deer hunting place. The first two years I got into poison ivy and sumac and used some creams that claimed they would eliminate the rash. But that did not happen. Soon, I was fire red from my neck to my knees. The rash had spread fast, bringing with it a fierce, raging itch … both years. Only the Doctor visit and a shot and some prescriptions cured me.

That 3rd year I got my girlfriend to drive me to the Doctor right away. This time I went to the Doctor as soon as I returned home.

I’m wondering, maybe you are like I was, and didn’t know what Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac looked like. Below, are pictures of the culprits and some info about them.

Poison Ivy (A): usually it has three tear-shaped leaves. The edges are smooth and the leaf comes to a point. It most frequently grows as a climbing vine. Additionally it can be a low-spreading vine that winds through grass and other ground level plants. It is found in most climates and grows in all the 50 states of the continental USA. Poison Ivy often grows in marshy areas, as well as near rivers, lakes and ponds. Touching any part of the poison ivy plant can cause red, swollen skin, blisters and severe itching, sometimes only hours after exposure. Poison ivy rash usually resolves on its own after a few weeks.

Poison Oak (B): has leaves very similar to oak leaves and the plant can have three leaves (and sometimes more) leaflets per group. Poison Oak grows as both a climbing vine or a ground level shrub. It is most common in the western United States. Poison oak causes an intense, itchy red rash. It contains an oil, named  Urusihiol. Most people are allergic to urushiol, and almost everyone who touches it develops a rash, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

Poison Sumac (C): Characterized by smooth surfaces and pointed tips, Poison Sumac is primarily found in wooded forests and moist (swampy) areas of the southern United States. Poison sumac has leaves made up of 7 to 13 leaflets (always an odd number). The plant has a red stem, and white oddly shaped berries.

Poison sumac is a shrub (some consider it a small tree) that grows in wet areas. All parts of poison sumac are poisonous.

Here is a pic of the early rash that these toxic plants create. Ouch!

BELOW: When this poison ivy thingwas happening to me I was bowhunting two places that looked exactly like this picture. I had pulled the vines aside to get my treestand in the tree.




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