Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Eek, Poison Oak!

Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum, Mission Trails Park. Pacific Poison Oak is apparently common in valleys, particularly near moisture such as streams. It is an innocuous looking shrub with glossy leaves that wouldn't get a second glance. However, it exudes an oil called urushiol that causes a painful reaction for most people (apparently 10-25% of the people are immune to the stuff). You can expect redness, nasty itching and blisters for up to 5 days (oh joy!).

I snapped a picture of this poison oak so I would remember what it looked like. I was merrily snapping pictures of poppies and lupine when a fellow hiker pointed out that there was poison oak all over the place (interspersed with the lupine, go figure). He suggested I might even have rubbed up against one or two! Well...I did feel a little burning (note to self not to hike in shorts) but so far, no itching and no blisters and the burning lasted at most for 10 minutes. Maybe I'm one of the lucky few who aren't particularly sensitive to it or...maybe I really managed to gracefully sneak by the bushes while snapping my pictures. Or maybe I brushed up against one of those beautiful but nasty stinging lupine, Luninus hirsutissimus (a picture for another day)! Either way, I'm keeping an eye out for this stuff in the future!


MartininBroda said...

Exciting excursions, fortunately nature here is more harmless, but there are sometimes unfriendly aliens e.g. I’ve heard of “Riesenbärenklau” (lat. Heracleum mantegazzianum), nice you survived your journey.

The Wayward Hawaiian said...

I looked up Heracleum antegazzianum. They also call it Giant HogWeed and Giant Cow Parsely. I had to admit that it is very beautiful although the sap sounds absolutely deadly!