There’s a nasty plant that shows up in countless backyards around North America. It’s called “toxicodendron”, but you probably know it as poison ivy, poison sumac, or poison oak. Many people have made the unfortunate mistake of working in their yards with feverish zeal, and not realizing until much later that they were really working with one of these nasty plants all over them.
The problem is that reactions to urushiol – the oil that comes from these plants – often take a day or even a few days before they show up on your skin. However, once they’re there, the itchy rash and painful blisters can last for weeks.
That’s why it’s so important to know what these plants look like before you work in the yard. Once you know what they look like, you can avoid them completely. If you do need to handle them, be sure to wash your clothes (preferably gloves and long sleeves!) immediately afterward, and never, ever burn these plants.