Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Leaves Of Three, Let Them Be!

I recently wrote about my new love for trail running.  I wanted to touch on some things to look out for while you are out on the trail.

There are several types of poisonous plants that you need to avoid while you are out on the trail.  The three most popular ones are Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac.  All three of these have something called Urushiol Oil, which is what causes the painful rash.  The crazy thing is that you only need to come in contact with 1 nanogram (or 1 billionth of a gram) to cause a rash.  It is so potent that 0.25 ounces is enough to cause a rash on every person on Earth.  Not good!!!  Here are some common myths.

1) There is a rumor that the rash can be spread to other people or other parts of your body.  That is not correct; you can only spread the Urushiol Oil (which is sticky).  Once you remove that with by various products that you can buy at the store, it will not spread.

2) Leaves of three, let them be.  While it is true that Poison Ivy and Oak have leaves in clusters of three, Poison Sumac has 7-13 leaves on a branch.

3) You don’t have to worry about dead plants.  This is not correct.  The Urushiol Oil will remain active on dead plants for 5 years.

4) Everyone will be affected when they come in contact with Urushiol Oil.  There is about 10% of the population that will have no reaction when they come in contact with Urushiol Oil.  The rest of us are not so lucky.

Here are some pictures of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac.

Here is a map of the plants that are prevalent in your region.

While these plants are out there, most trails are clear enough for you to avoid contact with them.  Just keep your eyes peeled and you should be fine. 

Pictures courtesy of www.zanfel.com

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