Be A Patriot! Plant Poison Ivy

July 3, 2014 | By | Comments (8)
Poison ivy

Photo: Steve Bender

Faithful readers, for Independence Day I extol the virtues of a truly All-American plant. It is native, easy to grow, feeds our wildlife, and loves Amurica! Some say it even cures illnesses. I speak, of course, of your friend and mine, our beloved poison ivy.

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) thrives throughout the eastern two-thirds of Amurica. Adorned by glossy green leaves that turn scarlet in fall, its hairy stems scramble up trees, walls, telephone poles, and chain-link fences faster than you can scratch an itch. Clusters of white berries hang beneath the leaves in fall, providing a bounteous feast for songbirds that spread its seeds hither and yon. What a wonderful native plant!

But poison ivy’s value extends beyond mere beauty and wildlife. Some people claim that poison ivy extract taken in pill form can treat, among other things, chronic pain, cramps, skin rashes, and arthritis. This is called “homeopathic medicine,” founded on the why-not principle that you can cure any illness by giving the patient more of what caused the illness in the first place.

But, of course! Say you are suffering from dysentery. It only makes sense that the most effective treatment is to drink more water contaminated with sewage!

Great News Gets Even Better!
What I’m about to reveal is bound to bring tears to the eyes and itchy rashes to the privates of dedicated homeopaths around the world. According to scientists, the increased atmospheric levels of CO2 due to burning of fossil fuels is helping poison ivy to grow even faster than before. Not only that, but the concentration of the rash-causing oil in its leaves and stems, urushiol, is increasing as well. Mother Nature knows best and what she’s telling us is that the world needs more vigorous and potent poison ivy.

What You Can Do To Help
Given the fact that garden bloggers and writers perpetually tout the superiority and ease of native plants, you’d think that an iconic native plant like poison ivy would be sold by every garden center and mail-order nursery in Amurica. No so. In fact, an exhaustive search on my part shockingly revealed not a single source. Only Sunshine Farm & Gardens in West Virginia is even trialing different forms to find a superior poison ivy.

There can be only one reason. The government doesn’t want us to know.

Poison ivy


But we, the people, of the United States in order to form a more perfect garden, establish justice, insure horticultural diversity, provide for homeopathic holocausts, promote the use of calamine lotion, and secure the blessings of emergency toilet paper to ourselves and our posteriors, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of Amurica — that the freedom to plant and share poison ivy shall never pass away!



  1. Steve Bender

    Way to go, Kylee!

    July 10, 2014 at 11:40 am
  2. Rick T.

    It was a big hit in the UK and Europe back in the day!

    July 7, 2014 at 12:47 pm
  3. cc macd

    I am itching all over now!

    July 6, 2014 at 10:28 pm
  4. joseph anon

    I know this suggestion is partly tongue-in-cheek, but anyone who takes it seriously would be seriously in error. Please talk to scientists. You might as well advocate planting nightshade.
    Obviously you have not spent much time removing invasives from the rest of the environment. Despite long pants, shirts, I have a consistent rash. I seriously doubt that extra poison ivy will welcome people to the forests where they can see for themselves that English ivy, Lonicera, and Garlic Mustard have displaced MOST of our native plants. Poison ivy is more than a survivor in these circumstances – you must not be old enough to remember all the woody wildflowers. There is plenty of poison ivy in our woods – we need diversity, not native monocultures.

    July 5, 2014 at 5:42 am
  5. Alison Pockat

    It does work well to create a barrier that keeps people out of places where you don’t want them to go. Thorny things also work well for this need.

    July 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm
  6. Dea

    Yes, wish [NOT] we could get it here, but [un]fortunately none of our better nurseries carry it. Considering the rise in break-ins and home invasions using windows as ingress, it would be a really great plant right under that huge bathroom window that all the burglars seem to want to use to get into our homes. (Of course, our yard man might have some objection, but like Kylee Baumie, he could just handle the whole thing with kid gloves.)

    July 3, 2014 at 4:40 pm
  7. Justin

    I’ll be patriotic and give away all the FREE poison Ivy you can take from my yard! (Self pick – of course.)

    July 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm
  8. Kylee Baumle

    We are doing our part at Our Little Acre! I don’t even have to plant it myself because the birds do my work for me. It has such significance here that I handle it with kid gloves. It’s also a great companion plant for Euphorbia maculata, another American native.

    July 3, 2014 at 11:49 am

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s