Now that summer is just around the corner, many of us are bound to find ourselves outdoors for some wholesome camp ragers. However, before you lunge into your next keg-stand, try to stay coherent enough to avoid these bummer Oregon plants!
Poison oak Toxicodendron diversilobum
Poison oak is commonly found all over the Pacific Northwest and can be identified by its smothering vines and tall, leafy shrubbery. Poison oak leaves are usually bronze colored in February and March, turning green in the spring and then yellow to orange as the summer progresses. Poison oak can also be identified by the white flowers that form between March and June, which turn into berries once fertilized.
Poison oak produces an oily organic allergen called uroshiol, which causes contact dermatitis characterized by a sexy, itchy, red, blistering rash. Unfortunately, allergic reactions aren’t only caused by touching the plant itself– so make sure not to burn poison oak either! Inhalation of the plant’s volatile fumes can also poison those near the fire.
Stinging nettle Urtica dioica
Stinging Nettle loves the humid, wet environment of the PNW. Probably because it’s a good break from the heat of the hell from which it came. Stinging Nettle can be often found in meadows with tall, protruding leaflets and flowers that are covered with stinging hairs. If you’re unfortunate enough to fall into this plant, be prepared to pick out these needle-like hairs while soothing down the Stinging Nettle chemical rash.
Deadly nightshade Atropa belladonna
Deadly nightshade is less-common than the other buzz-killers mentioned before. The biggest difference is that deadly nightshade will really fuck you up. The good news is that you just have to avoid eating the berries…or any part of the plant really. Deadly nightshade produces tropane alkaloids, causing symptoms that range from blurred vision to hallucinations, loss of balance, rashes, dry mouth and throat, delirium, convulsions, and even death.
Deadly nightshade can be identified by its long, thick roots and branches that produce large, faintly purple bell-shaped flowers. Deadly nightshade berries are initially green but turn black once ripe.
Poison-hemlock Conium maculatum
Don’t let the poison-hemlock’s tall, dainty, lace-like flowers fool you into believing you’re safe from harm’s way. This plant took out Socrates himself! Poison-hemlock can be found throughout the United States along roadsides, creek beds, ditches, the outskirts of fields and in waste areas. Poison-hemlock’s roots are commonly mistaken for wild parsnips, although ingestion of poison-hemlock’s poison can occur from any part of the plant.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, poison-hemlock is very poisonous to animals too, causing palate and skeletal deformities in livestock that are indistinguishable from the lupine-induced crooked calf disease. Symptoms of poison-hemlock poisoning include trembling, loss of coordination, weak pulse, respiratory paralysis, coma, and death.