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Working in your yard this summer? These four plants could ruin your fun.

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Working in your yard this summer? These four plants could ruin your fun.

In this simple guide you will learn how to identify, avoid and treat exposure to 4 plants that are poisonous to touch. 

Have you ever had an uncontrollable itch that wouldn’t go away, and continued to spread? 

If you garden or do yard work, chances are it’s happened more than once!

If it hasn’t, count yourself lucky! 

Whatever the case, you will want to be able to identify and avoid these 4 common poisonous plants!

Ready to get started? Then let’s dive in!


Issues Caused By Poisonous Plants

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (ADA), over 85% of the world’s population is allergic to these poisonous wild weeds

Even worse, these plants can be more dangerous during the warmer months of the year. Simply because individuals are spending more time outdoors mowing the lawn or gardening. Which increases the risk of exposure.

If the skin comes in contact with either poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and/or wild parsnips while working in your yard. Symptoms can emerge within hours! 

Simply put, avoidance of these plants is the best practice to eliminate the chances of contact. 

But... how do you know what they look like and what do you do if you are infected? 

Below is a quick roundup of these greens, to help you identify these sometimes camouflaged plants. As well as some simple simple steps to follow if your skin becomes contaminated.

Also, be sure to check out our infographic on how to identify, treat and avoid poisonous plants

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is a skin irritant that grows throughout the United States—except in Alaska and Hawaii. Poison ivy grows as a vine or a shrub trailing along the ground or climbing on low plants, trees, and even poles. 

Identifying Poison Ivy

Each leaf carries three glossy leaflets with smooth or toothed edges. The leaves are reddish in spring, green in summer, and yellow/orange in the fall. Some of these plants may even have greenish-white flowers and whitish-yellow berries attached. 

If You Come in Contact with Poison Ivy

If you come into contact with this species and can act before it affects your skin, wash it off. I prefer using rubbing alcohol to remove the irritating oil, and regularly have it on hand while doing yard work. If you don't have any on hand, you can use gasoline. 

Alternatively, a wet rag or cloth can typically remove the oil.

But, if irritation still occurs-

If a rash or blister forms, make sure not to scratch it and use wet compresses or soak yourself in cold water as soon as possible. Try an over the counter (OTC) topical corticosteroid, like calamine lotion, to apply to the irritation.

Poison Oak

This poisonous plant grows in the Eastern and Southern United States as a low shrub and as a long vine

Identifying Poison Oak

The leaves are fuzzy green in nature and grow in clusters of three with leaves that are lobed and toothed with rounded tips. Some of these plants may have yellow or white berries attached to the leaves. 

Here's the deal, poison oak derives it's name from it's oak shaped leaves. That tip can go a long way in helping you to identify the plant.

If You Come in Contact with Poison Oak

If you come into contact with Poison Oak, follow the same protocol as with poison ivy.

Poison Sumac

Unlike the other two poisons, this plant is commonly found in bogs or swamps in the Northeast, Midwest, and parts of the Southern United States. 

Identifying Poison Sumac

Sumac grows as a small tree and can even resemble a tall shrub. Each leaf has clusters of seven to thirteen smoothed-edged leaflets. Just like poison ivy, these leaves are orange in the spring, green in the summer and yellow/orange in the fall. Yellow-greenish flowers or whitish-green fruit sometimes hang loose in their leaf clusters.

If You Come in Contact with Poison Sumac

Any irritation caused by Sumac can be contained by washing the exposed area with soap and water and treating the skin with an OTC corticosteroid—the same actions as with Oak and Ivy.

Wild parsnips

This perennial plant is common in the Northern United States and southern Canada regions. It grows in dry areas such as roadsides, pastures, and inhabited fields—any place where the soil has been disturbed and native vegetation has yet to become fully established. 

Identifying Wild Parsnips

The stems produce a rosette of pinnate leaflets arranged around the stalk—usually arranged in pairs with saw toothed margins. 

When fully sprouted, each wild parsnip produces hundreds of small yellow flowers that bloom in the summer. The flowers consist of five yellow petals curved inwards. 

If You Come in Contact with Wild Parsnips

If you come in contact with this plant, immediately cover the infected area to prevent exposure to the sun. The plant's sap can cause PhytophotodermatitisWhich is a reaction that occurs when the sap is exposed to sunlight.

Wash the infected area with water and mild soap and apply with a topical corticosteroid. However, if blisters persist, immediately see a physician.

Bottom Line

With the summer months fast approaching, homeowners will turn their attention to tackling their gardening needs. 

Due to the abundance of these poisonous plants, green-thumbers can unwillingly find themselves in the middle of patch and be instantly contaminated. 

By checking your surroundings and identifying these harmful weeds, you can ensure that you are not in the “thick” of an itchy situation.

If you are looking for a lawn care professional to handle your outdoor work for you, contact one of the lawn care pros at GreenPal!

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