(NFR) Is there poison oak in the WA high desert?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by junebug41, Mar 14, 2007.

  1. junebug41

    junebug41 Junior Dave Monti fan

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    After a long hike in the high desert of the Columbia basin this past weekend, I noticed some itchy water blistering between my fingers. This has now spread somewhat, much like poison ivy or oak would. I had plenty of experience with PI growing up back east, but have never had poison oak, to my knowledge.

    Any of you botanical types or veteran desert explorers care to take a guess as to what this is?

    JB41
     
  2. salmonbelly

    salmonbelly New Member

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    Quite possible. I have never seen it there, but know it does occur in the Columbia River Gorge, a few spots in the San Juans and Seward Park of all places.
     
  3. BFK

    BFK Member

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    Probably poison oak is the answer...I've seen plenty of it on the east side, but I can't say definitely that it's in the basin...
     
  4. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones flytosser

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    I know there is poison oak in and around the Methow Valley so it wouldn't surprise me to see it spread across the eastern range. Nasty stuff.

    Jim Jones
     
  5. Jeremy Floyd

    Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

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    I never saw it once growing up in Cheney.
     
  6. bigtj

    bigtj Member

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    Here is the distribution of Poison Oak in Washington:

    http://plants.usda.gov/java/county?state_name=Washington&statefips=53&symbol=TOXIC

    A little more searching on the web would probably nail it down closer. Poison Oak doesn't do well in areas with low precip, so in general you don't find it in a true "desert" (places with less than 10 inches of rain a year). However, in riparian areas at lower elevation i.e. stream areas that gets say 15 inches a year you can find it all over the place. To make matters worse, this time of year it's hard to see because the plants generally lose their foilage in the winter time.
     
  7. LT

    LT Member

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    I've been brutallized by it walking up and down the Spokane River before I knew what it was. It seemed to spread as you reported.

    Never seen it in the Basin but like the previous poster said, very possibly could be in the riparian areas.
     
  8. jeffw

    jeffw Member

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    Hi LT,

    All I have ever seen along the Spokane River is actually poison ivy (T. rydbergii). But it is thick!! A lot of years ago, a friend and I were climbing the rocks at Minnehaha on the river. He's handling the belay and as I go up, he's piling the rope right onto a rather large patch of the stuff (we were top-roped). Needless to say, he paid for his mistake!

    Jeff
     
  9. Keith Hixson

    Keith Hixson Active Member

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  10. Flyn'dutchman

    Flyn'dutchman Member

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    It is most definitely present there. Many of the draws that have a little seep will support it. The launch area at Dry Falls used to have quite a bit growing.
     
  11. WT

    WT Member

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    Oak, Ivy, Sumac, whatever you want to call it the stuff is all over the place out there. All over.
    WT
     
  12. Keith Hixson

    Keith Hixson Active Member

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    I have never had a rash from that stuff. I guess I'm not allergic to them. My cousin is! When we went into the woods as kids, he was covered with a rash. I can pick up the stuff and never suffer. I understand that not everyone is allergic to poison oak, ivy, sumac, etc., evidently I have a natural immunity to the stuff.

    KEH
     
  13. Keith Hixson

    Keith Hixson Active Member

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  14. Loteck Joe

    Loteck Joe Over The Hill Gang Member

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    My wife told me that when she was a kid, she had a friend who broke her arm pretty seriously. I believe this happened in the Grangeville or Kooskia area of northern Idaho. Anyway, after the the cast came off the arm they were outside playing and came across a patch of poison oak. Her friend claimed to be immune to the stuff and to prove it she rubbed it on her newly uncast arm. Long story short, she wound up hospitalized with a life threatening infection. I'm guessing like bees stings and histamines, your immunity can grow week with each exposure.
     
  15. nhturner

    nhturner New Member

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    Best not to count on "natural immunity." I believe people become more sensitive with each exposure. I used to pull poison ivy up with my bare hands here on my home property. No problem until I did have a problem, really horrible. Stay away is my advice.
     
  16. junebug41

    junebug41 Junior Dave Monti fan

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    Thanks for some excellent info, folks. I still don't know exactly what it is, but I know this... it sucks. I noticed yesterday that I've even got a few of these blisters inside one nostril!

    Allright, bring on the nosepicking jokes... I swear -- I was just scratching it! It was outside the nostril! (Hopefully a few of you get the Seinfeld reference).
     
  17. FFK

    FFK Member

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    hahah, one time me and my freind were hanging down by the spoke throwing rocks into the rapids and such, when i looked over my freind was shredding a plant i looked a little closer and relized that it was poison oak, that was when i was nine, hes still not aloud to come over.
     
  18. Snake

    Snake tryin' not to get too comfortable

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    The symptoms you describe are consistent with poison oak/ivy exposure, and I've seen both on the east (dry) side of the the state, but almost always in the spring, after snowmelt, which again is consistent with your history of exposure.

    You don't become "immune" (in the classical sense of immunity) to urushiol, the compound in poison oak sap that causes a hypersensitivity reaction. Some people have very low number of lymphocytes (white blood cells/WBCs) that respond to it, so it takes higher levels of exposure to trigger the reaction. In the case of a recent injury that is healing (a broken arm) there will be a lot of WBCs in the area, and you increase the chance of having some that will respond to it. Or if you're exposed to it at a very young age, you might actually 'delete' the white blood cells that can directly respond to it, much the same way that autoreactive WBCs are deleted during immune maturation, and that can prevent a reaction ('immunity').

    Sage wisdom, and scientifically correct.

    Here's a good site for a detailed discussion: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ww0802.htm
     

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