As the weather turns warmer, many people are starting to think about summer plans for relaxation and recuperation from the hectic everyday life. In many cases, this includes looking to the outdoors for some peace and quiet, and this can be in the form of hiking, houseboating, camping, and other ways to be in nature. Although some form of survival knowledge is a skill set that is necessary for any of these activities, certain aspects of these talents may need some further development. Plant identification can be integral to ensuring that an outdoor excursion is a pleasant one. While this can include knowing the medicinal and nutritive value of certain vegetation, it should also include knowing which plants to steer clear of. The following are plants that frequently cause harm to people while they are camping, and should be both quickly identified and avoided.
- Poison ivy – one of the most prevalent irritants that can cause skin reactions ranging from mild itch and swelling to a full blown allergic reaction. While it is most commonly identified by it glossy three leaf configuration, poison ivy will also blend in brush, making more difficult to avoid.
- Poison sumac – this highly toxic plant presents as a tree with teal leaves that also have red veining. While it is often more easily identified, it also presents a larger danger, due to the fact that many campers will accidentally pick up poison sumac deadfall for firewood. Although an immediate contact reaction may not be evident, breathing in the smoke can cause extreme swelling in the throat, nose, and eyes.
- Amanita mushrooms – these are generally identified by their bright red caps and white spotting, but some forms of amanita range to a solid burgundy color with a pale stalk. These are highly poisonous and should not be eaten, but even touching an amanita can cause the toxins to seep through the skin.
- Stinging nettle – these are a common nuisance in fields and wooded areas, as the leaves bear nematocysts that are similar to a jelly fish sting. This can cause mild skin irritation, but can be staunched with vinegar or urine that is poured over the affected area.