Poison Ivy Rights

  • PI is often referred to as invasive (at Harvard, no less) despite the fact that the feds define ‘invasive’ as nonnatives that do such-and-such.  That’s because in the hard-fought battle to define the word for purposes of program funding, the nativists won.  Another native species many had hoped to see designated as invasive is the common deer, but enough said about that.  Don’t want to piss off the animal rights folks because they’re SO not fun.
  • PI was introduced to England in 1640 – invasion being a two-way street.
  • PI has been thrust into the spotlight lately by the news that climate change has caused an increase in both its growth rate and its itchiness.  I found an interesting take on this news from a site "Exposing and Combating the Liberal Media Bias" – if only – who counter that so-called global warming has also been found to decrease the potency of nicotine in tobacco and hey, why aren’t we hearing about that good news?
  • Most fun of all, Wilderness Way Magazine recommends eating a leaf of poison ivy daily to immunize yourself against its effects.  Yum.Poisonivy

So after minutes of exhaustive research, I still can’t tell you what’s up with the PI Rights League, though I suspect they’d get a laugh at my efforts to figure them out.


  1. THIS JUST IN: An inquiring parade-goer wrote to the local gardening Yahoo group this morning to ask what’s up with the Pro-Poison Ivy group. “Besides berries for the birds and other wildlife, what are the benefits of poison ivy? Anyone?” Followed by a quick response from a local activist, himself a member of the street theater group “Aliens in Search of Intelligent Design,” suggesting it was a spoof. But I’m sure more will be revealed.
    If only I’d interviewed the PI activists themselves, but it’s kinda hard when they’re on the march.

  2. “Most fun of all, Wilderness Way Magazine recommends eating a leaf of poison ivy daily to immunize yourself against its effects. Yum.”

    I feel like I must be pointing out the obvious here, but as a girl I was told about people who landed in the hospital because the irritants in poison ivy can and will make your throat and esophagus (not just your mouth and lips) swell and even close up as part of the immunological reaction. (Can they spell “contact dermatitis”?) Having a doctor inject something right into your bloodstream (bypassing your stomach acid and the skin surface of your digestive tract) as an ‘immunization’ is most assuredly not the same thing.

    For an in-depth look at poison ivy (with lots of pictures) I recommend Sue Sweeney’s Avoiding Poison Ivy as well as her excellent eco-gardening blog, In My Garden.

    The tinyurl is: http://tinyurl.com/r6wcs

  3. Pam Pierce just wrote a nice post about our impoverished understanding of habitat:


    “We think of our gardens as nature, and of course they do contain many of the creatures of nature, but they are highly disrupted nature. They are anthropocentric, human centered, selections from nature. They are not wild ecosystems. Even our native plant gardens are not the same as wild ecosystems. We select what we want in our gardens. We do not invite the poison oak (a major food for the California state bird, the quail) or the rattlesnake. We don’t encourage bumblebees to make a nest in our small urban gardens. We want the birds and the butterflies, but not the skunks and the cougars….”

    But I’m not sure I can get too worked up about the eradication of poison ivy.

  4. Yes, what’s up with this pro-poison ivy group? Even the people who decide what genus a plant belongs in kicked PI out of the genus Rhus and put it in its own genus Toxicodendron so that other members of the genus wouldn’t be associated with PI and its bad habits. I guess it shows that everything and everyone has SOMEONE to love them (or spoof them as they case may be)!

  5. I do know a man who eats poison ivy in the spring time, to “condition” himself against it and he does not happen to be sensitive to it.

    I would not be the one to say it is a causal relationship, but he does swear by it!

    I choose to just watch where I step.

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