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Thomas Jefferson considered poison ivy to be an ornamental plant, possibly because of its dramatic fall color.[1]

Jefferson outlined elaborate plans for the grounds at Monticello in his 1771 account book and in his garden book. Under "The Open Ground on the West. A shrubbery," he included "Poison oak" under "Trees." This is probably a reference to poison ivy, perhaps categorized with trees because it is often found climbing up tree trunks. Jefferson also listed other vines under the same heading, including honeysuckle and "jessamine."[2]

Further Sources


  1. ^ Peter Hatch, "Garden Weeds in the Age of Jefferson," Twinleaf 18 (2006): 19-26.
  2. ^ MB, 1:250. Transcription available at Founders Online. See also Betts, Garden Book, 23, 27; Garden Book, 1766-1824, page 7, by Thomas Jefferson [electronic edition], Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2003). "Open ground on the west" likely refers to what eventually became the West Lawn.