Dangerous Plants to Avoid in Your Backyard

There is danger lurking in the overgrown and wooded areas on your property. I’m not talking about spiders, snakes, or any other creature; I’m talking about poisonous plants. It doesn’t matter if you are doing yard work, camping, or just taking a leisurely stroll through Alapocas Run State Park, there are dangerous plants growing right under your nose. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you could be in for weeks of painful scratching and blisters. Protect yourself and others by arming yourself with the ability to identify these poisonous plants.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is a very common poisonous plant here in Newark, DE.

Poison Ivy is very common here in Wilmington. Luckily, it’s easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for. First, let’s look at what poison ivy is. Poison Ivy isn’t actually poisonous but has a chemical called urushiol that can cause severe allergic reactions in most people. The oils can cause nasty rashes and blisters that can take weeks to get rid of.To identify poison ivy, look for leaves of three; one large central leaf with two smaller leaves on the side. It can grow as a shrub on the ground or a vine climbing trees and utility poles. It appears reddish in the spring, bright green in summer, and yellow/orange in the fall

Poison Oak

Poison oak also grows in clusters of three leaves that contain the same chemical as poison ivy, urushiol. The main difference is that its leaves are lobed and look similar to that of an oak tree. Its leaves stand out in bright green in the spring, yellow or pink in the summer, and yellow to brown in the fall. If you remember the helpful saying, “leaves of three, let it be”, then you’ll be able to avoid both of these dangerous plants.

Poison Sumac

Poison sumac is one of the most common poisonous plants in Newark, DE.

Poison sumac is very different from poison ivy and oak in that it grows as a tree. Looking for leaves of three won’t help you either because poison sumac can have anywhere from 7-13 leaves per branch. It lives in wet marshy soils and is bright orange in spring, green in summer, and finally red-orange in the fall. This deceptive tree can be especially difficult to spot as it looks like several other harmless species of trees and shrubs but it can pack a similar punch to poison ivy and poison oak. In the fall it gives itself away by producing small white berries.

Take Precautions

After coming into contact with urushiol it only takes a half-hour for the chemical to bind to your skin. At that point, it can no longer be washed off. During the binding period, the chemical can be spread to other parts of your body. If working in wooded areas always shower immediately after. Urushiol can remain on clothes and tools for a long period of time so it is wise to wash everything after coming in contact with it. DO NOT BURN any wood that had poison ivy or poison oak growing on it as the chemical can be inhaled and cause painful blisters down your throat.

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