The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

Ode to Poison Oak – Toxicodendron diversilobum

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This post is dedicated to POISON OAK.

Such a beautiful plant, such a nasty plant.  CA has poison oak.

Fall’s starting which makes me a happy gal.  There’ve been some hot days this summer.  Though our straw-colored hills studded with dark green oaks have their beauty, cool days, rain and green hills I crave.

A little walk I took the other day. It’s in a redwood preserve some 20 minutes away called Roy’s Redwoods.  A three+-mile loop makes for a satisfying, short walk through open grassland, redwoods and a dark forest of bay trees.  I’m rather fond of it.

The poison oak is changing to red, all shades.

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Other leaves hint at change:

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Not all animals fear the plant.  Numerous birds eat its berries, black-tailed deer, wood rats and mice browse the leaves, stems and twigs.  Some moth larvae eat the leaves and use them for shelter. Bees gather its nectar.

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Humans?  I read CA Indians used the plant for basket making, dye production, and tattoo ink.  The plant was also used as a medicinal aid.  Some may have had immunity to the plant’s oils.  Still, records of Indian remedies for the rash all dread exist.

Remedies:  I wash with a soap product called Tec-nu after any exposure to the plant.  This wash stays in my car for immediate suspect post hike use/trail volunteering work use.  It’s a little chemical-based for my liking but I still use it.  Washing off the oil ASAP is the most important step.  I also try to corral boots/clothing exposed to the plants in plastic bags until washed.  That oil spreads easily.  I’ve even stripped off pants before getting into my vehicle when I know I’ve waded through much.

When I get the rash I apply Triamcinolone cream (a steroid topical RX) as soon as I feel the itch/see the bumps start.  Itching spreads it over your body.  The last bit I got wasn’t bad at all.

Maybe my body’s getting used to it?  Won’t push my luck.

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Blackberries are in abundance. They make fine trail snacks and I’ve picked larger quantities, on the road-side, to take home.

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Leaves of three, let it be:

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Such a pretty plant.

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