SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -– Seeking refuge from the sun and looking for a shady spot could have you walking into a different problem: poisonous plants.
For many families in the Ozarks, it’s peak camping and hiking season, which means trails with greenery. With that in mind, the nature center is offering a few reminders.
Spotting poison ivy or poison oak isn’t always a walk in the park. Kim Banner, a naturalist at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center, is trying to clear a few things up.
“Poison ivy is everywhere in the state of Missouri. It has three leaflets, with some lobing,” Banner said.
Banner said poison oak leaves look very similar, but have much more lobing on them.
Even though identifying poisonous plants might not be easy for some people, they’re certainly with you on your walk through Nathaniel Greene Park. Charlie Davis, who walks her dogs on the Greenways Trail, learned that by experience.
“Well they like to get into it and jump on their daddy and spread it to him,” she said. “I haven’t gotten it yet.”
Banner said some people are more allergic than others, while some aren’t allergic at all. Take, for instance, trail user Kevin Trogdon.
“I could play in it and not bother me,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean he’s going to.
“If you think you’re one of those people who’s not allergic, that can change and some day you could be, so you kind of want to keep that in mind if you’re going to go traipsing through poison ivy because you’re not allergic,” Banner said.
That’s something Trogdon already knew.
“As your body gets older, it changes,” he said.
There is some good news for Missouri residents. Poison oak is only found in six Missouri counties.
“It is in Taney County, but even in the counties it has been identified, it’s not very frequent,” Banner said.
Even if all the poisonous plant reminders are old news to some people, Banner says it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“It’s still a good thing to remember: leaves of three let it be, because if you’re not an expert, you don’t want to take that chance,” she said.
Banner said the best advice is to avoid poisonous plants all together. If you do come in contact with one, wash it off right away because the oils can transfer to other people, animals and objects. There are many over the counter medications available, like calamine lotion, to ease the itching.