Spreading the Word
Typical Appearances
First Aid
Medical Care
Risk Management

Avoiding Surprises
Total Avoidance
Reduced Risk
Calculated Risk
Morro Bay State Park
North of MBSP
South of MBSP




About the Author


The Reduced Risk Option

When visiting poison-oak country, it is helpful to know where the plant does and doesnt occur: 

  • Poison-oak doesnt grow in certain places, and has been eradicated from others. For example, the plant doesnt like salty places. As a result, it doesnt grow in the ocean, on beaches, reefs in front of the first dunes, tidal mudflats or salt marshes.
  • However, creek waters down to and including lagoons, those invitingly warm shallow puddles in the back beach are suspect, especially after heavy, windy rains. Oil from injured plants floats downstream. People have gotten rashes on their legs from wading in these spots.
  • Paved areas and sidewalks are generally safe, as are the interiors of stores, hotels and restaurants.
  • On the other hand, creek beds and banks, even those running right through town, are not safe. They are sometimes infested with poison-oak, and can be reseeded at any time from plants upstream.
  • The plant has been eradicated from many yards, and parts of parks. However, it can appear again at any time, seeded by bird droppings. This is in fact likely to occur if a neighboring property has poison-oak plants in it.

If you were to visit Morro Bay, California, you could access the beach at Sandspit Drive in Montano de Oro state park. Making a right turn at the beach, there is a gorgeous nine mile round trip walk! As long as you stay on the ocean side of the dunes, there is no poison-oak.

(Giant waves, momentarily covering the entire beach to a depth of three feet of water, occur occasionally, and cant be predicted. In the latest incident, three people were swept off a rock; one could not swim, and drowned. If you dont want to take this risk, use only beaches guarded by life guards on duty.)


All content copyright Dr. Curt Beebe. Please do not use without permission.