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Summer spoilers: a guide to plants that make you itch.

You had a great time playing hide-and-seek in the woods. You devoured the marshmallows you roasted over the campfire. You crawled into your sleeping bag. Then you noticed this little itch. You scratched it. It got worse. And worse. Where did this itch come from?

It probably came from one of the summer spoilers. These three plants can turn a dreamy summer day into an itchy itch·y
Having or causing an itching sensation.
 nightmare. Their names even sound terrible: poison ivy poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, woody vines and trailing or erect shrubs of the family Anacardiaceae (sumac family), native to North America. , poison oak poison oak: see poison ivy.
poison oak

Species of poison ivy (Toxicodendron diversilobum) native to western North America and classified in the sumac (or cashew) family.
, and poison sumac poison sumac: see poison ivy.
poison sumac
 also called poison elder

Attractive, narrow shrub or small tree (Rhus vernix or Toxicodendron vernix) of the sumac, or cashew, family.
. They contain an oil called urushiol urushiol /uru·shi·ol/ (u-roo´she-ol) the toxic irritant principle of poison ivy and various related plants.

 (yoo-ROO-she-all). Most of us are allergic to this oil. It makes us itch. It also causes blisters.

Summer spoilers grow in most parts of the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . But here's the good news: once you know what they look like, you can usually avoid them. Let's get to know these summer spoilers.


What it Looks Like

Poison ivy leaves have three leaflets (small leaves) grouped together on a stem. The leaves are red in the spring, green in the summer, and red, orange, or gold in the fall.

Poison ivy has green flowers in the summer. It has small yellow, white, or green berries in the fall.

Where to Look

The poison ivy vine grows on the ground, on trees, and in bushes.


What It Looks Like

Like poison ivy, poison oak leaves have three leaflets on a stem. The leaflets are shaped like oak-tree leaves. They are larger and shinier than poison-ivy leaves.

Where to Look

Poison oak grows in trees, in bushes, and on the ground.


What It Looks Like

Poison sumac grows as a small tree or bush. Its leaves have seven to thirteen leaflets. The green leaflets turn red or orange in the fall. Never eat the white berries on poison sumac--they are poisonous.

Where to ook

Sumac grows in wet places.


Native Americans in eastern North America used a plant called jewelweed jewelweed, common name for the Balsaminaceae, a family of widely distributed annual and perennial herbs. The principal genus is Impatiens, so named because of the sudden bursting of the mature seed capsules when touched.  to treat poison ivy. They crushed a handful of the plant and applied the juice to the itch. Native Americans believed that a cure for any harmful plant could always be found near that plant.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Children's Better Health Institute
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Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac
Publication:U.S. Kids
Date:Jun 1, 1994
Previous Article:River runner.
Next Article:Where does earwax come from and why is it there?

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