Photo: Steve Bender

Faithful readers, for Independence Day I extol the virtues of a truly All-American plant. It is native, easy to grow, feeds our wildlife, and loves Amurica! Some say it even cures illnesses. I speak, of course, of your friend and mine, our beloved poison ivy.

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) thrives throughout the eastern two-thirds of Amurica. Adorned by glossy green leaves that turn scarlet in fall, its hairy stems scramble up trees, walls, telephone poles, and chain-link fences faster than you can scratch an itch. Clusters of white berries hang beneath the leaves in fall, providing a bounteous feast for songbirds that spread its seeds hither and yon. What a wonderful native plant!

But poison ivy's value extends beyond mere beauty and wildlife. Some people claim that poison ivy extract taken in pill form can treat, among other things, chronic pain, cramps, skin rashes, and arthritis. This is called "homeopathic medicine," founded on the why-not principle that you can cure any illness by giving the patient more of what caused the illness in the first place.

But, of course! Say you are suffering from dysentery. It only makes sense that the most effective treatment is to drink more water contaminated with sewage!

Great News Gets Even Better! What I'm about to reveal is bound to bring tears to the eyes and itchy rashes to the privates of dedicated homeopaths around the world. According to scientists, the increased atmospheric levels of CO2 due to burning of fossil fuels is helping poison ivy to grow even faster than before. Not only that, but the concentration of the rash-causing oil in its leaves and stems, urushiol, is increasing as well. Mother Nature knows best and what she's telling us is that the world needs more vigorous and potent poison ivy.

What You Can Do To Help Given the fact that garden bloggers and writers perpetually tout the superiority and ease of native plants, you'd think that an iconic native plant like poison ivy would be sold by every garden center and mail-order nursery in Amurica. No so. In fact, an exhaustive search on my part shockingly revealed not a single source. Only Sunshine Farm & Gardens in West Virginia is even trialing different forms to find a superior poison ivy.

There can be only one reason. The government doesn't want us to know.


But we, the people, of the United States in order to form a more perfect garden, establish justice, insure horticultural diversity, provide for homeopathic holocausts, promote the use of calamine lotion, and secure the blessings of emergency toilet paper to ourselves and our posteriors, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of Amurica -- that the freedom to plant and share poison ivy shall never pass away!