A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

(Unless otherwise indicated, all phone numbers are in the 707 area code)


Potential hazards

Poison oak: Know what it looks like?

Poison oak can be a very pretty plant, but don't touch it. It's changeable in appearance--tinged with copper in the early spring, then fresh green; dark green in the summer; reddish again in fall and winter. Sometimes the leaf color is almost completely dominated by reddish tints, especially in the autumn. White waxy berries form in early summer (a favorite of many local birds), persisting into late autumn. Poison oak can grow in low thickets, as a shrubby plant, or vining up tree trunks. It always has three leaflets. Leaf surfaces usually have an oily look. If you touch the plant, wash exposed areas thoroughly as soon as you can. One photo below is not poison oak, but early spring growth on an actual oak tree. Can you tell which one?


© Colin Talcroft, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.. All rights reserved.

Unless noted, all photos by the author. If you would like to use one of my images, please ask for permission for non-commercial use with proper credit or commercial use with proper compensation.


(First photo, top left, is not poison oak.)