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Why poison ivy is an unlikely climate change winner

April 23, 2023

[Posted by Chuck Almdale]

[Note: This is in honor of LP who showed up at the lagoon today with a bad poison ivy rash. And, of course, for anyone else allergic to this plant, which means most of us.]

[Additional Note: Let me know if you are blocked from accessing the full article.]

In springtime, poison ivy (seen here growing in Ontario, Canada) is often shiny and light green, but it can proceed to becoming matte, or dark green, with reddish or bronze tinges.

Why poison ivy is an unlikely climate change winner
National Geographic | Douglas Main | 18 Apr 2023

From the article:

This plant stands to benefit immensely from climate change. In a six-year study conducted at Duke University in the early 2000s, scientists raised ambient levels of carbon dioxide in a forest plot to 570 ppm over the course of the experiment, roughly the concentrations expected by the end of the 21st century.  They found that poison ivy increased its biomass by 67 percent more than poison ivy without elevated levels of the greenhouse gas.

The plant also produced a more allergenic form of urushiol in the future-climate scenario, with an altered amount of saturated carbon-carbon bonds that make it more likely to cause rashes, Ziska says.

An old-time saying warns that if a plant has leaves of three, let it be. This bit of folk wisdom is meant to warn people about poison ivy, a noxious vine in the genus Toxicodendron found throughout much of North America. Poison ivy contains a chemical that can cause a vicious allergic reaction when it comes into contact with skin. This rash consists of oozing blisters that itch and hurt. Luckily, if within a couple hours of exposure you wash off the oil with soap—and, ideally, a washcloth—you can spare yourself the whole ordeal.

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