Tag Archives: poison ivy

Global Warming and Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is no joke. If you dare, check out some actual pictures of poison ivy rashes here.

Then check out this recent editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Even the Washington Post was impressed enough to reprint it in their editorial roundup. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Recent studies suggest that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are promoting leafier, more prolific, faster-growing – and itchier – poison ivy than ever before. And that could be killing off more trees in the forest, and causing more itches for more of us, than ever before.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s crop systems and global change laboratory in Maryland found that today’s CO2 levels are doubling poison ivy growth – and making it itchier than 50 years ago.”

The editorial goes on to say that studies done by Duke University found that carbon dioxide levels projected for the middle of this century due to continuing global warming resulted in a 149% faster growing crop of three leaved poison ivy and one that was much more potent.

I saw this editorial after visiting my own family home in Ohio. I noticed poison ivy seemed to be growing a lot more places. When I was a kid I got a bad case of poison ivy when I pulled some out near my favorite hiding place under the lilac bush. Now it seemed to be popping up in many other places on the two acres we owned.

My aunt asked me if I would help her by trimming up a ground cover area in front of her house and I noticed a lot of poison ivy spouting up in it. She commented that it seemed to be getting worse over time and she had already pulled a lot of it out. She attributed the spread to the local gardening company that last had worked on her lawn. More likely it was really global warming in action. My aunt’s friend also commented on the increased growth of poison ivy on her property when I mentioned it.

Poison Ivy climbs trees just like the English ivy that has spread in Seattle, threatening to choke and kill trees in mass. The editorial notes that “scientists think the woody vine could alter the forest composition around the globe by choking off trees.” Poison ivy also grows in Seattle. It hard enough to try to stop the spread of English ivy – adding more prolific growth of poison ivy to the mix will make things much more difficult.