Remember reading about a French horticultural magazine covering the native North American plant poison ivy? They used my photo of the Poison Ivy Rights League in my town (with permission), sent me copies, I solicited a translator and actually got one – Vertie at Vert Austin. Well, her translation is in.
The article in question, "North
America, a Poisoner in
the Woods!" is a long plant profile, filled with history and taxonomy and some interesting tidbits:
- "One is never safe from a meeting with poison ivy,
even in one’s own garden or it can appear in a bed of flowers
- "The vines apparently do not hurt the object they
- "It is
used in the fabrication of medicines, tattoos, culinary preparation and as a
dye for American Indian cloths and baskets. The plant was also introduced in
Holland, in 1919, to maintain the dykes in the
southwestern part of the province of
Then adjacent to the photo of the poison rights activists (actually, people making fun of the sometimes wacky activists in my town) we find the heading "An Organized Battle Against Poison Ivy In Canada." We’re told that towns in Canada have labeled it a noxious weed, and methods of eradication are detailed. Then:
"The readers of La Garance might be astonished to read in our
columns these strong recommendations for fighting poison ivy. It is far from us
to promote the destruction of an indigenous species, and above all with the help of chemical products, but the situation of the poison ivy seems unique in North America.
"Numerous displays present the
plant’s dangers and even more numerous are the proposed products to win the
battle. In the eyes of some, the excessive reactions have even encouraged the
lovers of wild gardens to take up its defense in symbolic manifestations!"
That’s where the photo of the July 4th Parade marchers comes in – to illustrate that point. But hey, even parade onlookers were puzzled – is it real or is it street theater? – so it’s no surprise that the little joke was misinterpreted.
NOTES FROM A TRANSLATOR
Because bloggers rarely pass up the chance to do a little color commentary, Vertie adds her 2 bits:
"In other parts of the magazine, I
loved that even a French gardening magazine has a topless woman (albeit a
drawing) in it; she is illustrating its story of the tree that ate people in
Madagascar. I also liked the brief story about the Italians’ attempts to
turn annuals into perennials. In particular they want to turn eggplants into
trees. They fused cells from the eggplant into those of a closely related tree."
She also wonders why one of the French names for poison ivy is "herbe a la puce", which translates to "weed of the flea."
And she concludes: "I never knew poison ivy could be so
interesting." Me, neither. And many thanks to Vertie for putting her language skills to work for us!
Back in the USA, the Missouri Botanical Garden outlines our choices for poison ivy eradication as sheep, goats, or herbicides. Credit for the plant photo here is theirs.