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Deadly. Powerful. Beautiful. The much-hated plant called poison ivy is all of theseand more.
Poison ivy has long irritated humans, but the astounding paradox is that poison ivy is a plant of immense ecological value. In Praise of Poison Ivy explores the vices and virtues of a plant with a dramatic history and a rosy future. Once planted in gardens from Versailles to Monticello, poison ivy now has a crucial role in the American landscape. The detested plant is a lens through which to observe the changes and challenges that face our planet.
For centuries, poison ivy has bedeviled, inconvenienced, and downright tortured the human race. This book covers the unique history of the plant, starting with the brash and adventurous explorer Captain John Smith, who “discovered” poison ivy the hard way in 1607. Despite its irritating qualities, the magnificent scarlet-and-gold autumn foliage lured Virginia entrepreneurs to export the vine to Europe, making it one of the earliest documented New World plants to cross the Atlantic, and its meteoric rise to fame as–of all unlikely thingsa garden plant. Showcased in the pleasure grounds of emperors and kings, poison ivy was displayed like a captive tiger, admired by Thomas Jefferson, Marie Antoinette, and Josephine Bonaparte.
Today, poison ivy is valued by environmentalists and native plant enthusiasts who name it one of our most important plants for wildlife as well as for soil conservation. In Praise of Poison Ivy will reveal why, in its native American habitat, poison ivy is a plant of astonishing ecological value. Poison ivy leaves are an important wildlife food, and the berries are a crucial source of winter nutrition for beloved bird species like robins, bluebirds and cardinals. On a national listing of hundreds of native plants that are of value to wildlife, poison ivy ranks seventh in importance.
In Praise of Poison Ivy also explores the question of why this plant is apparently on a mission to give us humans grief, from itchy ankles to life-threatening medical emergencies. The book will examine why poison ivy targets humans, but no other species, and explain the mystery of why a privileged few are immune to its itchy consequences.
Since the time of John Smith and Pocahontas, the American landscape has changed in countless waysmany obvious, some subtle. This book will reveal why there is far more poison ivy on the planet now than there was in 1607, with lots more on its way. It examines the ecological reasons for poison ivy’s rosy future, note the effects of climate change on native plants, and investigate the valuable role that poison ivy could play in our changing world.
|Publisher:||Taylor Trade Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Anita Sanchez is a professional environmental educator with over twenty-five years of experience at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. As a science writer, she is fascinated by plants no one loveslike poison ivy. Her website on under-appreciated plants, www.unmowed.com, has a lively and growing readership.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Poysoned Weede 1
Chapter 2 A Collection of Rarities 12
Chapter 3 Bartram's Boxes 19
Chapter 4 Loathesome Harlotry 26
Chapter 5 The Biggest Book 37
Chapter 6 Strong Medicine 45
Chapter 7 Royal Color 53
Chapter 8 A Virginia Native 62
Chapter 9 The Vine Lifestyle 69
Chapter 10 The Columbian Exchange 75
Chapter 11 What Do Animals Eat? 85
Chapter 12 Bird Candy 91
Chapter 13 Preparing for Doomsday 95
Chapter 14 Holding On to the Land 100
Chapter 15 There's Gold in the Hills: Poison Oak 106
Chapter 16 The Devil You Know 114
Chapter 17 No Holds Barred 121
Chapter 18 The Future of Poison Ivy 125
Epilogue: To Feed a Mockingbird 131
Appendix: How to Avoid, Heal, Obliterate, and Coexist with Poison Ivy 136
Part 1 How Not to Get Poison Ivy 136
Before You Touch Poison Ivy 137
What Is Urushiol? 137
How to Identify Poison Ivy 140
After You've Touched Poison Ivy 140
Part 2 How to Treat Poison Ivy 141
The Rash 142
The Jewelweed Controversy 144
A List of Remedies 145
The Healing Power of Plants 146
Part 3 How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy 147
Part 4 Toxic Relatives 150
Our American Cousin: Poison Sumac 151
Just Your Basic Poison Ivy: Toxicodendron radicans 152
The Other Poison Ivy: Toxicodendron rydbergii 152
About the Author 180