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    Recognize Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

    "Leaves of three, let it be." Many parents give their children that advice and it works, in the case of poison ivy and poison oak -- but not for poison sumac.

    Learn what to watch out for, and what to do for poison ivy treatment.

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    How to Spot Poison Ivy

    You’ll notice three pointed leaves that change colors with the seasons:

    • Reddish in the spring
    • Green in the summer
    • Yellow, orange, or red in the fall

    On some plants, the leaves have notched edges. On others, the leaves’ edges are smooth.

    Poison ivy can grow as a bush or vine. You may see the vines climbing up the sides of trees or buildings.

    The plants sometimes have white berries, which help it spread. Birds eat the berries and transplant the seeds on new areas along with their droppings. This may be why poison ivy is so common. It’s in each U.S. state, except for Alaska, Hawaii, and parts of the West Coast.

    How to Spot Poison Oak

    Look for three leaves shaped in lobes that look like the leaves of an oak tree.

    The plant grows in low shrubs in the eastern U.S. On the Pacific Coast, it grows in long vines.

    How to Spot Poison Sumac

    Its leaves grow in groups of seven to 13 along its stems.

    The plant can be a shrub or a tree. It has clusters of small, yellowish flowers that mature into clusters of glossy yellow or off-white berries.

    Poison sumac is most common in the Midwest. It’s also found up and down the East Coast. It favors bogs, swamps, and the shores of the Mississippi River.

    6 Ways to Avoid Poisonous Plants

    1. Steer clear of areas where you know they grow.

    2. Cover up with closed shoes, socks, long pants, long sleeves, and gloves. Wash any clothes that come in contact with poisonous plants as soon as possible.

    3. If you get exposed, wash your skin with soap and warm water right away to get the plant’s oils off your skin. Some experts say that washing within the first hour may help limit the rash.

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