Ode to Poison Ivy

Hail, shining jewel of the forest’s edge,
who, guarding the damp and shade-worn oaks,
graces the green boughs of the sun-warmed hedge
and hides in the root-skirts of the Wort Folks.
Strong oils weep, coating your arrows-leaves:
a warning, a curse to any so arrogant,
ignorant, or foolish, your fierce spears
fine punishment for woeful woodland thieves.
Erroneously thought malevolent,
human ruin ignites your caustic tears.

Ahhh, Poison Ivy, glorious in her guardianship of the borders and edges (and hedges!) of North America! Europeans have Nettles, we have this lovely. And I say this without sarcasm–she is utterly gorgeous, both as she emerges in the spring, and when she turns to fiery crimson in the fall.

One of the most irritating things (other than the urushiol oil which serves as her defense) is the manner in which Poison Ivy is casually lumped into “invasive” species by layfolks because she is aggressive and inconvenient to many a human (in fact, her oils only affect humans and a few other higher primate species). She is not, in fact, invasive, but native to North America. Her spread has been enabled by humans’ own behaviors, our tendency to clear forest and mow fields gives her the perfect propagation ground. Sister Ivy maintains her sovereignty and is a harsh teacher for the unwary.

So be cautious, be respectful, and listen to her warning. Not everything is for us, but Poison Ivy’s lessons certainly are.

2 thoughts on “Ode to Poison Ivy

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