“Three San Francisco cops remain on disability after suffering “severe” reactions to poison oak during a Sept. 9 scuffle with a tree-branch-wielding homeless man in Golden Gate Park, police said Thursday. The incident erupted about 9:15 a.m. when transient William Deegan, 39, became violent with a park ranger who approached him in a forested area near Transverse Drive. The ranger was reportedly trying to cite Deegan for illegally camping in the park. During a struggle, police said, Deegan allegedly struck and wounded the ranger with a tree limb. Police officers who were called to the scene also had their hands full. The transient struck one of the officers in the head with a log, Richmond Police Station Capt. Sharon Ferrigno said. The ranger and cop were treated at the scene for their head injuries. However, the stitched-up cop couldn’t simply return to his beat, police said, as he and two of his colleagues were exposed to poison oak while wrestling Deegan to the ground.”
Poison Oak is a hazard for anyone who uses Golden Gate Park, not just the homeless and the park police. And it surely wasn’t included in the original planting plans for the park. But it has been growing in the park for a long time.
And it IS a native plant (unlike the Himalayan blackberry and English Ivy that also grow rampantly in the park). In recognition of this, there’s a magnificent specimen of Poison Oak (properly identified, pruned and kept in check) in the California section of the Botanical Garden. And at this time of year, it turns deeply red and looks quite beautiful!