7 Poisonous Plants to Avoid

How to recognize them and what to do if you touch one
poison ivy Photo: Tim Mainiero/Shutterstock
people hiking in jungle
poison ivy
poison oak
Poison sumac leaves
spurge plant
machineel tree fruit
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Poison ivy

This ubiquitous plant is a bane of hikers and campers. What gives it away? Its notorious three-leaf cluster, which inspired the rhyme “leaves of three, let it be.” Its leaves turn from dark green to red and cause a nearly unbearable itchy, blistering rash that starts 12 to 72 hours after contact. Thanks to the urishiol oil found in its branches, roots and glossy leaves, it’s a year-round threat. Expect to find poison ivy everywhere in the U.S. except Alaska, Hawaii and parts of the West Coast. If you do get a rash, wash the area with soapy water and use calamine lotion for itch control. Best bet for prevention? Protective clothing.

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