Leaves of Three

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation:
Residence:
Date of Performance/Collection: April 7
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

“Leaves of three, let it be. If it’s shiny, watch your heiny. If it’s hairy, it’s a berry”

This piece of folklore is a saying to talk about how to identify poison oak. If it has three leaves or is shiny with oil, watch your heiny, meaning that it is likely poison oak. If the plant is hairy, it is a berry bush. This piece of folklore is performed typically outdoors and used for a very practical sense. It is a teaching tool to enable people to identify poison oak, whose oil will cause rashes on anyone who touches it with bare skin.

            The subject learned this piece of folklore from Boy Scouts. It embodies the type of preparedness and learning the boy scouts emphasizes and is a very practical way of remembering the qualities of a poison oak plant. The subject learned it from their Scoutmaster during a camping trip. The subject, of course, made use of it as a practical saying which is its intended purpose. They remember it because of their interest in the outdoors when they were younger, which was the reason they joined Boy Scouts in the first place.

            This saying is not just a warning for kids. It represents technical education through oral folklore. Typically, something like this would just be told by another person or read in a book. Instead, this saying was created in order to help people remember their qualities. Because of this, it takes on a different form and really represents the importance of passing down knowledge to the younger generations.