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.


Other leaves hint at change:


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.


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.


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



Leaves of three, let it be:


Such a pretty plant.

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