Fast facts on poisonous plants of summer

Poison ivy, oak and sumac are plants that contain an oil that may cause a rash on many people’s skin. Urushiol, the irritant oil in these plants, need only be present in a billionth of a gram to cause a rash. It is the most common allergy — affecting half of the population, according to the Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac Information Center.

Here are some other things to know about these poisonous plants.

• Rashes from poison ivy and the other plants is not contagious. The only way it spreads is if the urushiol oil is still on the site.

• Poison ivy may have three leaves per cluster, but poison sumac can have 7 to 13 leaves on a branch.

• The oil t hat c auses t he effects of poison ivy can remain on any surface for up to five years, including dead plants.

• The more frequently one is exposed to urushiol oil, the shorter the time an allergic reaction will occur.

• Poison ivy and poison oak account for an estimated 10 percent of lost work time among U.S. Forest Service workers.

• Poison ivy can grow along the ground but is often found as a vine creeping up trees. Poison sumac and oak grow more often as bushes.

• Some topical and prescription medications exist to help relieve the uncomfortable symptoms that result after exposure to a poisonous plant.

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