When everybody loved poison ivy


So the lesson to be learned is to defrost your hot pockets in the fridge the night before?

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I think you meant to post on a different story … but I’m enjoying speculating on how you got that lesson out of a piece on poison ivy.




The headline on this article doesn’t seem to match the body at all. Yes, some people cultivated Poison Ivy, as they did many new world plants, and one person even illustrated them next to some roses, but “everybody loved” seems completely wrong. Maybe “some people tolerated” or “some people thought ‘Poison’ was too strong a word”, but there is little love in the article.

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I intended to post on the physics of hot pockets article. I dunno if there’s a bug on the mobile site or whatnot, but I promise that I clicked straight over from the article :slight_smile:

First off, respect to my slug brethren:

The study of these intriguing molecules continues. In 2012 researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, engineered a molecule that reacts with urushiol to form a fluorescent compound, allowing even minute amounts of urushiol to be detected with ultraviolet light—perhaps a future boon to hikers and campers.
Second, and as someone who has gotten that noxious oil on some delicate parts, I'd be much much more inclined to try and enjoy stinging nettles as Bonsai or just for giggles--poison oak and ivy can get bent!
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One use of poison ivy I’ve heard about, but cannot confirm with a quick search, is as a fence covering for the estates of the rich and noble in Europe. The itchy plant was planted around and encouraged to grow on the outskirts to keep out the masses. Possibly just an urban legend.

If this was the case I’d expect wild poison ivy to be more common. The stuff is pretty invasive, and as far as I know its nearly non-existent in the wild in Europe.

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Actually more pleasent that the traditional broken glass stuck into mortar on top of the wall.

Does Europe never experience hailstorms? It’s hard to imagine that kind of defense being more than “here’s some smoothed over clear spots where the glass used to be” after a couple of decades.

Well crabgrass was originally imported into the United States and it is apparently excellent animal fodder.

African Origin
The origin of the crabgrass seed can be traced back to Africa where the Europeans first collected the harvested seeds and brought them back to Europe, according to the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. Once in Europe, crabgrass was grown as an animal forage and as a food additive. The seeds were also fermented to manufacture beer. In Africa, the seeds of crabgrass are known as, Fonio, and still remain a prominent staple in many locations.
Importation into the United States
In the 1800s crabgrass seeds were brought across to the United States from Europe by immigrants. The early settlers grew the grass and harvested the seeds, which they would use like millet. They would bake crabgrass seeds in breads and porridge. In 1849 the United States Department of Agriculture imported crabgrass seeds to plant for a forage for draft horses. When the turn of the century arrived crabgrass seeds were rarely used in culinary dishes, according to the North Vernon Plain Dealer and Sun. Fields of crabgrass were commonly planted for animal forage all the way into the 1940s.


I heard some guy slept with her and got an itchy rash.

I have always loved Poison Ivy.

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I grew up next to a wall with glass set in the top (in Europe, or at least in England). I only lived there ten years but the glass was just as sharp by the end of that. A couple pieces worked their way out of the mortar, though. I guess if it became an issue they’d remove the mortar cap and redo it. I can confirm it does discourage you from climbing over the wall.

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Poison ivy doesn’t hurt right away, and it’s unlikely that random revolting peasants are going to recognize it since it’s non-native. Broken glass just doesn’t need an explanation.

A few years ago I considered trying to sell poison ivy. I was looking for something I can get for free but that someone somewhere is willing to pay for. Ultimately there were too many obstacles for me, but I’m convinced the idea is sound.

Last year my daughter went to an outdoorsy day-camp. One of their projects was to gather up plants to make headdresses. She gathered up an armload of poison ivy and draped it over her head and arms. The camp counselors quickly cleared it off and gave her a good scrubbing, but to no avail. 24 hours later a rash developed, and at 36 hours she was a MESS. But she was a total trooper about it, only crying once when the itchiness got out of control on the way back from the doctor. We found that a lukewarm bath full of baking soda made her feel a lot better, even if it really just took away the feeling of helplessness.

Whatever you do with poison ivy, do not make tea out of it. Someone asked what would happen on Fark and the general consensus was

Well yes, I would imagine that is why it didn’t catch on. Although I think they were more worried about burglars than insurgent peasents. Might be useful if there was a particular glade that poachers were fond of hiding in, though.

Someone told my great grandmother that a good folk remedy for a bad case of poison ivy was to make a tea out of the leaves and drink it. One near-fatality later (imagine severe poison ivy rash in your throat) I hope she or her relatives threw the person who suggested it into the nearest bed of the stuff.