February 20, 2020

Poison Ivy on the Rise

SALISBURY, Md. – If you have ever walked outside in your yard and had poison ivy rub against you, then you know the nuisance it can be. But now, this poisonous plant is on the rise across the country, including in Delmarva.

Bill Oakley grew up on a farm, and said that he had the unfortunate experience of poison ivy many times before.

“The itching, biting-like, it’s not fun.”

From his farm experiences though, he said that he found a way to keep away from these harmful plants.

“Leaves of three let them be,” he said as he recited an old slogan. “Leaves of five, let them thrive. Stay away from them, and that will help avoid the problems.”

Salisbury horticulture expert Will Lowery from Salisbury University said that the growth was evident throughout Delmarva, including in his home county of Wicomico. In fact, in the backyard of the Salisbury Horticultural Department, he showed WBOC the vast amount of this weed growing.

“We’re still not there where it’s taking over the world,” he said. “But the more temperatures rise, the more you’re gonna see it pop up here and there.

According to Bill Nelson, an environmental expert and instructor at Salisbury University, this growth is due to four main factors.

“Increased Moisture, increased temperature, habitat disturbance, and increased CO2,” he said. “And three of those four are due to climate change, but four out of four are due to humans.”

Making matters even more difficult is that the leaves produce a fruit that is enjoyed by birds. These birds then spread the seed for poison ivy causing it to sprout up in other areas.

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Poison Ivy on the Rise

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