It's for the Birds!

Poison Oak: A Plant Worth Getting to Know

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Leaves of Three, Let it Be!

Poison oak is a native plant common throughout Lane County and much of the Pacific Northwest. Though feared by many people, it is valuable for wildlife, and a signature plant of the Oregon white oak savanna landscape. It provides food and shelter for birds, amphibians, and small mammals, and pollen and nectar for bees and other insects.

Some Native American groups used the sturdy yet flexible stems and shoots of poison oak as warp strands in basket weaving. Some also had medicinal uses for the sap of poison oak.

 

Poison oak makes a landscape more welcoming to wildlife. Learning to live with this important native plant is one more way we humans can support the native habitat that wildlife need.

Poison oak berries are an important food source for birds when there is little else to eat in the bleakest part of winter. Yellow-rumped warblers, Lincoln sparrows, song sparrows, flickers, downy woodpeckers, chickadees, and more have been spotted feasting on poison oak in or near Rasor Park. (Photos by Rick Ahrens)

Where is it in Rasor Park?

Poison oak is present in the NE quadrant of Rasor Park. It can be (slowly) invasive if not kept in check with mowing, fire, or competition from other native grasses, shrubs, and trees. Friends of Rasor Park volunteers have removed it from large swaths of the park, and continue to remove it manually in some areas, and especially where it gets too close to paths.

Avoiding Poison Oak

Learning to recognize and avoid poison oak is an important skill if you like to spend time outdoors in Oregon. There are also some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and spare yourself a lot of misery if you know you are working or playing around poison oak. Check out our publications for some tips!