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Urban Oak

  |   by ws1    Bookmark and Share

I am not a fan of Poison Oak. And now that it's officially spring, there seems to be no shortage of it. You can even find it crowding relatively well-worn urban paths.  This photo (for example) was taken from Loma Alta Drive on my walk over to Shorline Cafe.  

See how the oily new Poison Oak leaves blend right in with the new and shiny scrub oak leaves?  Sneaky. I was surprised that even for a former boy scout, I found it hard to tell the two sets of fresh leaves apart.   

Because I am a genius, just before snapping this photo, I accidentally brushed my wrist on one of these two branches (not sure which). I then proceeded to check and double check my arm height to determine which branch I had touched.  Then, just to be safe, I walked down to the cafe parking lot (holding my 'quarantined arm up like an idiot), strode across the beach, and scrubbed the hell out of it with sand and saltwater.  Even then, I couldn't enjoy my chowder without feeling like I should run off to the bathroom to make sure I'd removed all the oils from my skin.  Good times.   

As a small aside.. I remember hearing as a kid that the Chumash would eat very small portions of the plant (over time)  to build an immunity to it. I don't have the cajones to try it.. but I am curious if anyone else knows anything about this mythical remedy?

Here's the Wikipedia Page on the plant. 



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