2016.05.05 Not so Peaceful Nature

I was enjoying one of the beautiful trails of our peninsula.

It is not hard to spot, our local scourge, the Poison Oak. Abundant everywhere - if you know what to look for.

Leaves in three,
Let it be.

In the picture you can see what this beautiful plant looks like at this time of year. Notice the many small plants in the background.

The Oak in the name comes from the shape of the leaves. The Poison part comes from an oil covering everything on the plant that you - and everybody else - are allergic to. The plant may be much bigger - or smaller - and it turns orange and red in the fall. Know it.

Because the allergic reaction is to an oil, you can prevent it by removing the oil the same way you would remove other types of grease. The drugstore has a special soap called Tecnu; I use dish washing liquid or rubbing alcohol or chlorine - it is cheaper and seems to do the job if applied without unnecessary delay. That would mean when you come home from your walk; tomorrow is too late.

Beware what may be sitting on clothes, boots, poles, dogs, and children, too. Petting a dog that has roamed freely may transfer oil to your hands and from there to the next thing you touch. Such as your eyes or your baby. Many people carry napkins and soap in their car, just in case.

Do take this seriously. A friend had such strong reaction that years later, she can't walk our beautiful trails most of the year because the small amount of oil evaporating into the air is enough to harm her. Another had to be treated at the hospital. I had to go on steroids.

You can read more about this and other hazards of our local nature in the Biology chapter of the website.

Don't let this scare you from enjoying our beautiful surroundings. Just respect that the foothills are not a city park.