Poison ivy is growing faster than ever. That’s not the bad news. The tormentingly toxic plant is also packing more rash-inducing resins than ever. Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, of global warming fame, is the cause.
Plants take in carbon dioxide (CO2) and release oxygen. More CO2 leads to happier plants. Because of increased CO2, trees now grow about 10% larger. Poison ivy now grows nearly 150% larger. This is because vines love CO2, which leads to larger-than-ever poison ivy plants. If you’re allergic to poison ivy as I am, then the risk of running into the virulent vine is greater than ever.
But it’s football season, and crisp nights mean the poison ivy growing season is nearly over. So, you’re safe, right? Wrong. You might think you’re less likely to get poison ivy in the fall. I used to think that too until I learned the hard way.
When I was in college I worked as a landscaper to pay my rent. Every fall, without exception, I got my worst poison ivy rash of the year. For a guy who could spot poison ivy at 100 yards in the dark, it always surprised me.
The reason is that the poison in poison ivy stays active long after the leaves fall and plant is dead. When you think you’re raking maple and oak leaves, you often don’t realize you’ve got fallen poison ivy leaves mixed in, like a dye-pack in a stack of $100 bills waiting to explode when you touch it. Fortunately for me there are no leaves to rake in downtown San Diego.
What’s the worst case of poison ivy you’ve had?
Do you have any home remedies for treating poison ivy?
Have you noticed more poison ivy this year?
Photo: Steve and Sarah Emry