Pro Tip: Poison Oak

Sure, we know there's nothing better then coming home from the trail with a few gnarly battle wounds to show off to your friends and family. You know, so they'll finally realize how epic your adventures really are. Trust us on this one though, poison oak is not to be messed with, unless you're pretty sure that your loved ones are going to be impressed when you face a merciless bout of severe itching, inflammation, colorless bumps, and blistering.  

Known on the West Coast as Toxicodendron diversilobum, or western poison oak, this pretty little plant packs a powerful punch: a surface oil called urushiol, which causes the allergic reaction. Seasonal changes in appearance can make it difficult to identify, but here's a few tips:

  • Look for three leaflets with scalloped edges
  • Leaves can be bronze, green, red, or pink
  • White flowers in the spring
  • Possible to have clusters of tan berries
  • They're deciduous and are bare stems in the winter (but still poisonous)
  • When in doubt, listen to Kevin's wise words: leaves of three, let them be


Filmed at Dog Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge, Washington.