Tidewater’s Most Irritating Plant! by Mary Syrett
For instigating itches, blisters, rashes, and general discomfort, few plants in the Tidewater can compete with poison ivy. Although a fortunate few persons are immune to poison ivy’s deleterious effects, between 50 and 70 percent of the population experience physical reactions after coming in contact with the plant. The unpleasant results of a “brush” with poison ivy may last for days, weeks, or even months. Severe cases sometimes require hospitalization.
Poison ivy has been irritating people for a long time. In 1609, English adventurer Captain John Smith gave the plant its apt name. He thought that it resembled English ivy or Boston ivy in appearance but went on to observe that “the plant causes abominable itchynge.” Poison ivy is a member of the Cashew family (Anacardiaccac). Many residents of the Tidewater have probably heard of three “poison” members of this family: poi-
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December 2011 Tidewater Times