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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Watch Out for These Itchy Plants!

Watch Out for These Itchy Plants!

Poison Ivy
What Does it look Like?
Clusters of three smooth, shiny, almond-shaped leaflets. Leaves are generally anywhere from one to five inches long, but can grow to be up to 10 inches long. Usually red in spring, light green to dark green as summer progresses, and bright red or orange in the fall. May have grayish-white berries. Grows on vines with fine reddish root hairs along the stem.

Where Does It Grow?
Throughout most of North America, including most Canadian provinces and all U.S. states except Alaska, Hawaii and California. It thrives along the edges of wooded areas, which makes it especially prominent in suburban communities.

When Does it Grow?
Early spring through late autumn.

Atlantic Poison Oak
What Does it look Like?
This upright shrub grows to be about three feet tall. The leaf stems are about six inches long, with three usually hairy leaflets on each. The leaflets vary in shape and size, but often resemble small oak leaves. They are green during the spring and summer, and turn yellow or orange in autumn. May feature small, round yellow or green fruit.

Where Does It Grow?
Grows in the Southeastern United States, from the Atlantic coast westward to Texas and Oklahoma. Thrives in forests, thickets, and dry, sandy fields.

When Does it Grow?
Early spring through late autumn.

Western Poison Oak
What Does it look Like?
Can grow as either a low, dense shrub in sunlight or, in shaded woods, as a climbing vine. Like Atlantic poison oak, leaf stems are divided into three leaflets, each up to about four inches long, that often resemble glossy oak leaves. Leaves are bright green in the spring, turning yellow to red in the summer, and bright red in the fall. May include white flowers or greenish-white berries.

Where Does It Grow?
Found only along the Pacific coast, from southern Canada to the Mexican Baja peninsula. The shrub form thrives in grasslands or at the edges of forests, while the vine form grows in thick woods, usually climbing the trunks of large trees.

When Does it Grow?
Early spring through late autumn.

Poison Sumac
What Does it look Like?
Poison sumac — which is the most potent itch-causing plant in North America – is a large shrub or small tree, which can grow to be up to 20 feet tall. Leaf stems include anywhere from seven to13 oblong or oval leaflets, each about two to four inches long. It may include greenish flowers or tiny gray fruit.

Where Does It Grow?
Poison sumac grows only in very wet soil, especially in swamps or peat bogs, throughout the eastern United States and Canada.

When Does it Grow?
Early spring through late autumn.

Stinging Nettles
What Does it look Like?
Stinging nettles are a light green plant that usually grows to around three feet tall during the summer, but can reach heights of up to seven feet. Features soft serrated green leaves up to six inches long on a hairy green stem. Many of the “hairs” are actually rigid needles that inject irritants into the skin when touched. May include brownish or greenish flowers.

Where Does It Grow?
Common in every state and province in the United States and Canada, except Hawaii. Also grows in northern Mexico.

When Does it Grow?
Early summer through early winter.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.