Summer is a great time for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and backpacking. During your adventures in natural areas, be on the lookout for poison oak. Poison oak, a well known plant for most people in California, is widespread in our state and can be encountered in open woodland areas, grassy hillsides, coniferous forests, and open chaparral.
Poison oak looks different depending on the time of year, and may be difficult to recognize. In spring, it has young leaves that are green or sometimes light red, along with small, white-green flowers. In late spring and summer, poison oak foliage is glossy green. As we head into late summer and early fall, the leaves will turn shades of orange and red with whitish-green, round fruit.
Being able to identify poison oak is extremely helpful in avoiding contact with it. Many people are sensitive to poison oak and may experience severe skin irritation and itching, and sometimes followed by water-filled blisters. Learn what to do if you've been exposed to poison oak in UC IPM's Pest Notes: Poison Oak.
Poison oak can also invade landscapes from nearby natural areas. Suggestions on how to remove poison oak from the landscape are also included in the Pest Notes publication.