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Poison Ivy

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

Jefferson listed elaborate plans for the grounds at Monticello in his 1771 account book and in his garden book.2 Under "The Open Ground on the West — a shrubbery," Jefferson included "poison oak" under "Trees."3 We assume this to be a reference to poison ivy (Rhus radicans), 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."

Comments

ajeffries's picture
This may be one of the worst gardening ideas I have ever heard. Yes, poison ivy has beautiful fall color, but it is (as you must know) the cause of a terrible itchy rash. I do not know anyone who would consider cultivating it in their garden. It is one of those fall foliage plants that should only be enjoyed from a distance and left to grow in the woods.
Amy

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