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plants and trees
skin rashes
poison oak
Poisonous Plants And Trees
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Poisonous Plants And Trees

If you get a burning rash on your skin after being outdoors, you probably came in contact with the leaves of a vine or shrub that have a resin in them known as urushiol. This allergic reaction is called “contact dermatitis.”

Plants such as these that cause skin rashes are known as poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. They can be found in the woods as well as your back yard. Most people are allergic if they are exposed, but children are rarely affected. This is because children have not had as much contact with the plants and a rash does not develop the first time a person is exposed.

Skin that comes in contact with urushiol will first become reddened and then blisters will appear. There will be itching, burning and swelling and the rash will be at its worst on about the fifth day. Relief comes after that when the blisters break and start to crust over and then eventually disappear.

It is fairly easy to recognize these plants once you know what to look for. Being able to identify them can help you to avoid a painful rash.

Poison Ivy

There is an old saying, “leaflets three, let it be.” The leaves of a poison ivy plant are green, slightly glossy, and grow in groups of three. The leaves may turn red in the fall. Poison ivy grows as a vine most of the time, but can also grow as a shrub in fields and along fences. There may be green berries with orange markings on them.

Poison Oak

Poison oak was named because of its resemblance to oak leaves. Like poison ivy, it also grows in groups of three. The underside of its leaves are covered in fine hairs. The top of the leaf is a darker green than the underside. Some poison oak plants have green or white berries. They usually grow as a shrub.

Poison Sumac

Poison sumac grows as a tree. It is usually 5 to 6 feet high, though some can grow to 25 feet. Characterized by long, smooth leaves, the poison sumac has anywhere from 7 to 13 leaves in pairs with a single leaf on the stem’s end. In the spring the leaves are orange. They become green in the summer and reddish orange in the fall.

Nonpoisonous sumac trees have red, upright clusters of berries. The poisonous ones have green berries and the clusters are drooping.

If you are exposed to any of these wash the area with soap an water and apply calamine lotion.

Street Talk


Yikes, sounds like being burned. I was not allergic to any of these when I was younger but it's been many years since I've been in contact with these poisonous plants. I don't even want to chance it now. Thanks for the great info, Georgia.

  about 1 decade ago

Hope it helps to keep you safe, AnnMarie. I got into some poison ivy a few years ago and the rash was on my arms. I was miserable! If you were exposed to it when you were younger (and you probably were), you will break out the next time you come in contact with it, so be careful!

  about 1 decade ago
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