Summer in the Wilmington, Delaware area always has plenty to do. Whether you’re taking a drive to the beach, walking along the Christina River, hiking in one of our beautiful state parks, or working out back in your yard, there is plenty to keep busy with.
But beware, there is danger lurking everywhere. Plants such as poison ivy, sumac, and oak are in abundance this time of year, as well as a few other plants that can be dangerous. Learn what they are and how to identify them so that you can maintain your distance and keep you, your family, and your pets safe. Here is a list of the six most commonly found in our area.
1. Poison Ivy
Poison ivy is very common here in Wilmington. Luckily, it’s easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for. Poison ivy can grow as a shrub or a vine that climbs up the sides of the trees, often confused with Virginia Creeper. You can easily identify poison ivy by its leaves of three. It has one large central leaf with two smaller leaves on the side. These leaves produce a chemical called urushiol, which causes the severe allergic reactions poison ivy is famous for. In the spring, it is red. In the summer it’s bright green, and in the fall, it is yellow and orange.
2. Poison Oak
Poison oak also grows in clusters of three leaves and contains the same chemical as poison ivy. The main difference in appearance between the two is that poison oak’s leaves are lobed and look similar to an oak tree. The leaves are also a darker green and have hairs on both sides. In the spring, the leaves are green. In summer, they are yellow or pink, and in the fall, they turn brown.
3. Poison Sumac
Another cousin of poison ivy, poison sumac, is different in that it grows as a tree. It is typically found in wet marshy soils, and in the fall, its leaves turn red, yellow, and pink and produce bright yellow berries. It also doesn’t have clusters of three leaves, and it contains rows of seven to 13 leaves resembling the leaves of an elm tree.
Plants Contain Urushiol
The three poisons listed above all cause allergic reactions to the skin when touched. Reactions include itchy, red rashes, swelling, and blisters. Urushiol is pretty toxic stuff and can remain hidden in clothes, tools, and anything that has come in contact with the poison, all within 30 minutes of contact.
4. Poison Hemlock
Another dangerous plant here in Delaware is poison hemlock. It is dangerous not just to humans but to animals, cattle, sheep, horses, and domestic animals if eaten. This vile weed is typically found along roadsides, fences, pastures, railroads, and abandoned sites because a constant movement scatters the seeds. Its leaves are large, finely divided, and have a lacy appearance. Its stems can grow up to ten feet tall and are smooth with purple blotches.
5. Wild Parsnip
This dangerous plant can also be found along roads and trails, natural areas, pastures, forests, and fields. It can grow up to five feet in height with leaves that resemble celery. It has hollow, hairy stems with hundreds of yellow flowers on top. When activated by sunlight, a toxic chemical within wild parsnip can cause serious burns and blisters to humans if contacted. It can also harm livestock if ingested.
Able to grow up to eight feet tall, pokeweed is often mistaken for a tree. Its smooth red-purple stems, large narrow leaves, and bundles of dark purple berries help set it apart from other plants. Just like the others, you can typically find this dangerous plant along roadsides, in open areas, and in pastures.
All parts of the plant are poisonous, although some folks down south use it for baking pies and other pastries. It’s not only dangerous for humans but for livestock and pets as well. The poison, either ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cause heart and breathing problems.
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At Quality Cut Lawn Service, we specialize in lawn care and landscaping services throughout the Wilmington, Delaware area and beyond. We focus on customized solutions for individual lawn care, providing a plethora of services, including a lawn fertilization program, mowing, mulching, aeration and overseeding, landscape and design, yard clean-up, and various other services. Learn more about us by visiting our website, requesting a quote using our online contact form, or calling us at 302-420-7597.
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