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Poison Oak Photos - Is It Poison Oak or Not?

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Updated September 07, 2013

Is that plant poison oak or not? Poison oak is a great imitator, its leaves take on the shape of those nearby. After a couple of bouts of poison oak, I have become an expert at spotting it along the trail, road, and in my own backyard.

Leaves of Three, Let it Be: The one thing that doesn't vary is the pattern of three leaflets branching from a single, independent stem. Two leaves are attached directly to the stalk opposite each other. The third leaf juts out from them at a right angle, so the 3-leaf pattern forms a triangle. There are no additional leaves on the same stalk.

The leaves may be serrated, round, or oak-like depending on what other foliage is around the poison oak plants. They may be shiny, or not. They may have a red tinge, or not. Be wary, or you're in for a week of itchy torture.

The plant itself may be single stalks of three leaves close to the ground. Or a bush. Or a vine climbing up a tree. Most photos were taken on one trail in the Columbia Gorge.

Images 1-12 of 19
Oak-Shaped Leaves on Poison OakOak-Shaped Leaves on Poison OakRound Leaves on Poison OakRound Leaves on Poison OakOily Poison Oak LeavesShiny Poison Oak LeavesPoison Oak in BloomPoison Oak in Bloom
Poison Oak Imitating Round LeavesPoison Oak - the ImitatorPoison Oak BushPoison Oak BushPoison Oak and Blackberry VinePoison Oak and Blackberry VineBlackberry vs. Poison OakPoison Oak and Blackberry Vines
Not poison oakNot Poison Oak - Maple LeavesOak, not Poison OakOak, Not Poison OakRound Leaves Not Poison OakRound Leaves Not Poison OakPoison Oak or Not?Poison Oak or Not?
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