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What plants to stay away from while camping — Don’t get the itch

When you start planning your camping trip to the great outdoors, make sure not to forget about the hazards that you might run into. In this article we are going to talk about what plants to stay away from while camping. Cause I don’t know about you but if it was up to me I don’t want to spend my camping trip scratching my body or even worse have to cut your trip short.

Poisonous plants work by direct contact with your skin. The oils these plants produce get on your skin and your skin absorbs those oils and creates an itchy rash and weeping sores. If these oils get on your face may cause a more severe case cause it could effect your breathing and vision. In this case you should seek medical attention immediately.


Here are the most common poisonous plants that you will run into while you are on your outdoor adventure.

Poison Plants

Poison Plants Map
Poison Ivy is found in almost all parts of the US. Often grows along rivers, lake fronts, and ocean beaches. It grows as a climbing vine or a low spreading vine.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy plants typically have leaf arrangements that are clustered in groups of three leaflets, though this can vary. The color and shape of the leaves can vary as well depending upon the exact species, the environment, and what time of year it is. The plant may have yellow or green flowers, and white to green-yellow berries, also depending on what time of year.

Poison Ivy RashPoison Ivy Rash



Symptoms of poison ivy are redness of the skin, itching of the skin, swelling of the skin and small or large blisters. The rash could appear bumpy, or patchy, and it will effect the areas that have come into contact with the oil resin. Areas that were exposed to a larger amount of urushiol may develop the rash more quickly, and the rash probably will appear more severe. In some instances, new lesions may continue to appear for up to two to three weeks. One can spread the rash to other parts of the body if one’s contaminated hands (with the oil resin) touch other areas. The fluid that sometimes leaks from the blisters does not contain urushiol and therefore does not spread the rash, and You can not spread this rash other individuals. In order to spread the rash to someone else, they must directly come into contact with the oil resin. Generally speaking, the rash slowly improves and disappears after one to three weeks in most individuals. Overall, the symptoms may range from mild to severe. In extreme in cases, an anaphylactic reaction can develop.

The initial treatment for someone who has recently been exposed to any of these plants includes rinsing the affected area with lots of warm water within 20-30 minutes of exposure to remove the oily plant resin. The effect of rinsing the exposed area decreases with time, as the oily plant resin is quickly absorbed into the skin. Some people recommend rinsing the area with rubbing alcohol, commercially available poisonous plant washes, or degreasing soaps and detergents. It is also important to clean under the fingernails to remove any remnants of the plant resin. In addition, make sure you really clean all clothing or any objects that may have come into contact with these plants.

You can use anti-itch creams like Calamine lotion. Oatmeal baths, Tecnu and Zanfel also work. If the rash get so severe that it gets infected you will have to see a physician to prescribe some antibiotics for the pain. You need to avoid scratching the infected area. If you start experiencing anaphylactic reaction you will need to go to the emergency room or call an ambulance.


Poison Oak

Is most mostly found in the western United States, sometimes it is found in the eastern part of the states, it is rarely found in the Midwestern part of the country. It has leaves that look just like oak leaves, usually in 3 leaflets sometimes in groups of up to 7. It grows like a vine or a shrub.

Poison Sumac

It is less common than Poison Ivy and Poison Oak. It is found wooded swampy areas like Florida and a lot of the southern states. You can also find it in wooded areas in the northern part of the US. They have 7-13 leaves on each stem. The leaves are pointy with smooth edges. Grows as a small tree or shrub.

None of the plants grow in elevations above 4000 feet. They don’t grow in deserts except for river banks and along the shores of ponds or lakes. They also don’t grow in Hawaii, although they do have other plants that cause skin rashes.

So when you are out and about on your outdoor adventure, you want to make sure to keep an eye out for these poisonous plants. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions in the comment section below and I will get back to you promptly.




  1. lynnette

    Great stuff, Fred! I will surely share this with my friends, as they are more the campers than I. Plus, I have accidentally sat in poison ivy and came out clear! Good info though 🙂

    • Fred Prasun

      Thanks! Oh yeah, you are one of the 10-15% of people that don’t get an allergic reaction. You are pretty lucky cause having a reaction is no fun at all. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Gabriella

    Fortunately, I have never had a chance meeting with one of these guys yet. The map doesn’t seem like Florida is included on there, but there are some plants like the Poison Sumac that seems to grow here. Thank you for putting all of this together, it’s hard to keep track of it all!

    My parents go camping a lot, but they usually stay in their comfy RV, haha

    • Fred Prasun

      Thank you for the info about Sumac being in Florida. You are right it’s mainly from central to Northern Florida. It’s just not as common as the rest of the States. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Sharnna Green

    Hi, Thank you very much for this info so if I ever get lost in the wild I will know exactly what to stay away from. Where I live in the tropics I heard a lot about poison ivy and courrage but very unfamiliar will some of these plants.

    • Fred Prasun

      Your welcome. Yeah these plants are mostly in the United States. There are other poisonous plants and trees all over the world. Thank you for your comment. Remember if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks again.

  4. Furkan103

    First time I hear the Poison Oak. After reading this, I will definitely check out the leaves more carefully.

    • Fred Prasun

      I am glad to help. Thanks for stopping by. If this post helped you out feel free to check out my other post for helpful tips and information. Thanks again.


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