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Pacific poison oak

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Pacific poison oak
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Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Toxicodendron diversilobum

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Pacific Poison Oak

Pacific poison oak is a species of poison oak that grows as a multi stemmed shrub or a woody vine along the Pacific coast of North America. The leaves are a bright green color in the summer and a reddish color in the fall. They usually have three, oval, differently lobed leaflets and resemble oak leaves. Like poison ivy, the pacific poison oak is reproduction is done by creeping root stocks or by seeds. The plant is in most parts of California like west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Mojave Desert. This plant often grows in canyons, slopes, chaparral, and in oak woodlands. After coming into contact with poison oak, there will be a strong itch, which causes swelling, bumps, and then blistering in the area that was scratched.

Anatomy

Pacific poison oak

The shrubs of the Pacific poison oak stems grow from 2 to 6 feet tall. The vines usually reach around 10 to 30 ft, but can be all the way up to 100 ft. Pacific poison oak grows as a multi-stemmed shrub or a woody vine. The leaves are bright green in the summer, reddish in the fall and usually have three, oval, differently lobed leaflets and resemble oak leaves. Male and female flowers grow on separate plants that are reproduced from seeds in the fruit, which are white drupes, and sprouts from creeping root stocks. Also, small flowers occur in leaf axils. The leaves are usually bronze when they first unfold, bright green in the spring, yellow green to red in the summer, and bright red or pink in the fall. When the white flowers are fertilized in the spring, they develop into greenish white or tan berries.[1]

Reproduction

Like poison ivy, the pacific poison oak reproduces by creeping root stocks or by seeds. The plants do not require a rich soil, but succeed in a well drained, fertile soil in areas with a lot of sunlight. White flowers form in the spring time and if fertilized, develop into greenish white or tan berries. On the Pacific poison oak there are five stamens. The plant is sterile or rapidly reduced in pistillate flowers. Also there are three stigmas. The fruit are generally spherical. Later in the mature state the fruit become papery or leathery. The fruits are cream to brown colored. The pulp of the plant is resinous. The flower has sepals and the petals are usually a oval shape. Also the flowers are a yellow green color.[2]

Ecology

Pacific poison oak

Pacific poison oak grows in all the Pacific coast states like in western portions of Nevada. It is in most parts of California like west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Mojave Desert. This species is found in the very sunny exposures of open canopy forest floors and mixed with other chaparral species in environments that have a lot of sunlight. Pacific poison oak may be the cause for one-fourth to one-half of the under story bottom in some of the Coast Range California Oak Woodlands, like in parts of the Annadel State Park. This plant makes phenolic oils from it's leaves and stems that discourage herbivory. A number of animals like the Black Tailed Deer eat the leaves of the Pacific poison oak because they are high in calcium, phosphorus and sulfur. Berries are a very important food source for a number of birds and wildlife. Pacific poison oak are poisonous at all times of the year and at all of the growth stages. Every part of the plant, except for the pollen, contains urushiol, which is a toxin that causes irritation and blistering of the skin. This plant often grows in Canyons, slopes, chaparral and oak woodlands.[3]

Toxicity

The effects of Poison oak are a lot like those of Poison Ivy. The plant first causes a strong itch, which causes swelling, bumps, and then blistering in the area that was scratched. Every part of the plant is toxic, and causes an allergic reaction when in contact. There are about 70 percent of adults who contact poison oak will develop a rash in a delayed fashion from about a eight hour minimum to two weeks later. The rash is caused by a allergic reaction to urushiol resin on the stems or leaves. If a fog of smoke or a animal gets the urushiol resin stuck in their fur or anything, indirect contact with one of those may lead to a rash. When the urushiol poison has had contact with the skin, it is automatically bound to the skin. After the urushiol is removed, the rash cannot usually be spread by contact with an affected area or by scratching. The poison can be washed off in a short period of time after the contact is made, but once it is bound to the skin, it can't be washed away.[4]

Gallery

References