The dreaded Poison-Oak

A recent bought of poison-oak rash got me researching this ubiquitous California native plant, Toxicodendron diversilobum, in efforts to understand how best to relieve my suffering! Along the way, I discovered some new facts of which I was not previously aware. Compiling these into the poison-oak page of gardening in mediterranean climates website seemed a good idea – not that anyone (or at least most people!) would intentionally plant such a thing in their gardens, but as gardeners and plants-persons in general we would seem more likely to come into contact. I did discover a simple way to identify this shrub from other tri-foliate species which abound out there. The image included here has circled the petiole (leaf stalk) of the central leaflet, lacking in the two side leaflets. I’ve looked at dozens of photos of other plants likely to be confused with poison-oak and none of them have this feature, so this would be a good fact for the uninitiated to keep in mind while hiking in our local California hills.

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A blog by Seán A. O'Hara

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