Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Sumac: Recognizing the Plants

Health Writer

Poison ivy, poison oak and sumac plants can all cause an irritating, itchy rash. And according to CBSnews.com, the plants are becoming larger and stronger, making it more important than ever that you recognize and avoid these plants.

Poison IvyDuring the summer months, poison ivy leaves are solid green. In spring, the plant has yellow-green flowers and in autumn the leaves change to yellow or red with white or cream colored berries. The leaves are usually in clusters of three but can sometimes have more leaves (Hence the saying: Leaves of three, let it be.) In the eastern states the plant is often a** vine** but in the northern states it is commonly a** shrub**.

Poison Ivy Leaves - Photo courtesy of James DeMers- Pixabay.com

Poison Oak

Poison oak is found in both the western and eastern United States but is more common in the western states. It is not found in the midwest. As with poison ivy, leaves are often in groups of three but there can be as many as seven leaves in each group. It can also grow as either a vine or a shrub, although it is more commonly a shrub.

Poison Oak leaves - Photo courtesy of Joshua Nichols - Pixabay.com

Poison Sumac

Poison sumac is less common that poison ivy or poison oak. There are between seven and 13 leaves on each stem. The leaves have pointed tips and smooth edges. The leaves sometimes have black or brown spots (these are filled with urushiol oil, which is the poison) It is mostly found in woods or swampy areas in the southeastern states, however, it can also be found in wet, woody areas in the northern states. It grows as a shrub or small tree. In autumn, the leaves turn red, orange and yellow.

Poison Sumac Leaves - Photo courtesy of Pippalou - Morguefile.com