How to Avoid Problems with Toxic Plants Ames IA

Itching to get away? Learn more about toxic plants and how to scratch a trip to the hospital off your outdoor adventure list. Please read on for more detailed information in the following article.

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How to Avoid Problems with Toxic Plants

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Toxic Plants

Look but don't touch

In 2004, 25-year-old Canadian actor Andre Noble died of monkshood (aconite) poisoning while hiking in his native Newfoundland. Even though he was familiar with the territory, officials assume he mistook the deadly flower for wild parsley. Aconite isn't the only toxic plant lurking in the North American countryside. Some wild mushrooms and berries can be equally lethal. A good policy to adopt is never eat any plant life you find along the trail.

But you don't have to ingest a plant to suffer ill effects. In Australia, just brushing against a stinging tree (Dendrocnide moroides) has been known to kill humans and even horses. Fortunately, in North America, the most common toxic plants - poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac - just cause a rash. While extreme cases require medical attention, unless you roll around in a patch, you shouldn't require hospitalization.

Prevention

"Leaves of three, let it be," is a common rhyme to help children identify - and sidestep - poison ivy. Unfortunately, this little ditty doesn't apply to all noxious plants. Unless botany is your passion,

  • Look it up: Bring a field guide specific to the area you're exploring.
  • Stay on track: If you're unfamiliar with the region, avoid areas thick with plants you aren't familiar with.
  • Cover up: Wear long pants and socks if you are traveling on trails or areas known to be overgrown with troublesome plants.

When left on clothing, boots or gear, urushiol (the plant oil that causes the rash) stays potent for up to five years and can cause later outbreaks if transferred to your skin. If you suspect you've trekked through a patch of poisonous plants, you can prevent post-hike reactions if you

  • Rinse off: Rinse off your boots or shoes with soap and water or rubbing alcohol after your hike.
  • Wash up: Wash all of your clothes immediately upon return.

Signs and Symptoms

If you've come in contact with poison ivy or one of its co...

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