Before ATV camping in the back country you should researched the area to become aware of the types of back country wildlife and insects you might encounter. But also you need to be aware of the poisonous plants to avoid on your camping trip. The following article describes the three most common poisonous plants in the back country.
Poisonous Plants to Avoid on Your Camping Trip
The three most notable toxic plants that you are likely to encounter on a camping trip are poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac. All of these have the potential to cause an itchy and painful rash. Being able to identify poisonous plants could be a useful skill.
Poison ivy is perhaps the most widespread of the three, as it has become well established all over Northern America. Poison ivy can be a low-growing shrub or vine that grows along the ground or as a high climbing woody vine. The leaves are typically a dull, dark green colour, but can become vivid red during the fall. It seldom appears above 5,000 feet, but the majority of campgrounds are below this altitude.
Poison oak also has multi lobed leaves, with white or tan berries on the branches. Often the leaves have toothed or scalloped edges and appear to be creased rather than flat as noticed on the poison ivy leaves. The leaves are divided into three leaflets, but five lobed leaves are present as well.
Poison oak is found in the sandy soils in the regions of southern New Jersey to Florida and common in western areas of the U.S. as well, such as Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Some species are also noted in Washington, Oregon, in the Columbia River gorge, and Nevada.
Poison ivy is most notable in the east, whereas poison oak is typically more common in the south and west.
Of the three mentioned toxic plants, poison sumac is the least established. As it favours especially wet soils such as peat bogs and swamps. The leaves have a bluish green tint, often with red tones. The fruits on the bush are small white or grey coloured berries. Although, the least common, it has the most toxic poison of the three.
All three of the plants produce a toxic resin called urushiol, which is the cause for the unpleasant irritation to humans. In view of the fact that urushiol is oily it can quickly become spread across other parts of the body, such as the hands, and face just from casual brushing. The oil tends to bond to the skin cells it comes into contact with, and then stays there.
The irritation can vary from mild to severe and a cream like corisol is often used to treat the symptoms. If you suspect that you become into contact with Poison ivy, the first step is to avoid spreading it. Don’t make contact with your face or other body parts.
Thoroughly washing the exposed skin with soap and water is the primary treatment, but once contact has been established some degree of effect is inevitable. Within fifteen minutes of the initial contact, the urushiol has become chemically bonded to the skin.
Applying a pharmaceutical product, such as a cream or spray will help to treat the effects, and avoid the temptation to start scratching. This can lead to a secondary infection. The rash will need up to two weeks to run its course, but it treated effectively the irritation will settle within a week.
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If you know you are going to be camping in an area with any of these poisonous plants you might want to pack some hydrocortisone cream and some Benadryl in your first aid kit. Proper planning of your ATV camping adventure will help give you a better understanding of the area so you can enjoy your time in the back country.
The poisonous plants images for this blog post are public domain image files from Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia is a freely licensed media repository.