Folk Mnemonic

Folk Mnemonic (About poison oak)

Red and shiny watch your hiney.


Vienna first heard this in the 6th grade year when she was at science camp.  The trip entailed a lot of hiking, as well as poison oak, so her leader told her this mnemonic.   Because of the rhyming element, it is ideal for younger children to remember and understand.  Vienna was fond of this item but as she got older, she realized that that this represents only one form of poison oak. It can also be green and is actually just as irritable as the red kind.  She concludes, “this rhyme isn’t very efficient, but for a 6th grader I think that it is fine”.

I was actually at this same science camp with Vienna and vaguely recollect hearing the same thing.  I definitely agree that is it effective for middle school students, especially since red is the more common plant out of the two.  The purpose isn’t to get the person fully acquainted with the plant species, but more so to keep them aware when walking.  A lot of the plants in the wilderness have similar characteristics, but what is fairly distinct to poison oak is the shiny, oily element.  This is where the actual irritant is.  I have heard this mnemonic used quite frequently when in the wilderness or outdoors.  It is not only said by the instructors, but even by novice outdoorsmen looking out for one another.