Sunday, June 21, 2009

Toxicodendron radicans

Common poison ivy. I had a lot of it. Now I don't.

Yeah, so, it wasn't on the plan - it was an impulse task.

It really is a lovely plant; I had two truly colossal healthy specimens in particular that I would loved to have kept if they didn't, you know, make my skin come off. As it is, I admired them in their proper place: the dumpster.


  1. Man, one thing I don't miss about the east half of this continent is poision ivy. It's the only thing I'm allergic haven't had fun until you've been 98% covered by a rash from a small encounter with the plant.

  2. Tecnu is great stuff (and beats the heck out of scrubbing down with chlorine bleach, which was my father's approach to the skin-cleaning problem), and the TVA buys it for their workcrews, or so I am told, but it's better not to have to use it.

    I remember finding a plant along the fenceline when I was about five; it was fall and there was only a red leaf and a big yellow berry left on it. It was still enough to do damage.

  3. The dead stems are enough to do damage after fifty years in a museum, sadly. Urushiol oxidizes on exposure to air and becomes harmless (black Japanese lacquer (urushi) is in fact oxidized urushiol) but if it's protected from oxygen, it never breaks down. Not even in fire, as people who have breathed poison ivy smoke have learned to their detriment.

    Didja know the Victorians took poison ivy back to England as an ornamental?

  4. Oh, and Roger - there's relatives of poison ivy everywhere. Like mangoes. Also Comocladia dodonaea, a thorny tropic bush I've had personal dealings with. All the anacardiaceae contain urushiol in varying amounts.

  5. Michael, I've been fortunate out here in the PNW to not encounter poision oak, which is what we have to keep us in rashes--it's not that common, thankfully, or for some reason I don't have the same reaction. Nettles, now, we grow nettles by the metric ton, but fortunately they don't cause me to do anything other than suffer a small rash for a few minutes, like anyone else.

  6. Whew, lucky you. I guess I was posting out of a need to prevent a sense of complacency in others outside the range of poison ivy; that's what got me into trouble.