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Climate Changes Are Making Poison Ivy More Potent

WSJ.com – June 26, 2007

This is very believable.  The scientists in this article were able to do a lab study of poison ivy plants in a very controlled environment.  They compared the reaction of poison ivy in a control atmosphere of “normal” carbon dioxide in the 1950s to today’s CO2 levels.  The result was a more aggressive ivy with greater hardiness, size and allergenic properties.

The study doesn’t mention other plants that have received this CO2 boost but it is plausible that we will see this.  Interesting conclusion is that the greater growth rates of plants may mean that the CO2 will sink out of the atmosphere more quickly.  This is purely conjecture on my part.

If you are camping this summer (or anytime in the next couple decades) be careful of these monster ivy plants!

New research shows the rash-inducing plant appears to be growing faster and producing more potent oil compared with earlier decades. The reason? Rising ambient carbon-dioxide levels create ideal conditions for the plant, producing bigger leaves, faster growth, hardier plants and oil that’s even more irritating.


The latest research, led by Dr. Ziska, studied poison ivy plants in Maryland under different levels of carbon-dioxide exposure. One group of plants was exposed to about 300 parts per million of carbon dioxide — about the same level found in the atmosphere in the 1950s. Another group was exposed to 400 parts per million of CO2 — about the same level in the atmosphere today.

After about eight months, leaf size, stem length and weight and oil content of the plants raised at current carbon-dioxide levels were, on average, 50% to 75% higher than the plants under the 1950s conditions, according to the study, expected to be published this year in the journal Weed Science. Not only did the higher CO2 level double the growth rate, but it made for hardier plants that recovered more quickly from the ravages of grazing animals.

The rest of this article is very interesting.  Please click through to read!

Here is some related reading for you to enjoy:
Feeling Warmth, Subtropical Plants Move North

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One Response to “Climate Changes Are Making Poison Ivy More Potent”

  1. But why focus on poison ivy, a decidedly non-world moving plant? I can understand if the focus of the study is just the effects of higher CO2 levels on the chemical makeup of the poison ivy’s poison – which, btw, is not the same thing as global warming at all!

    If the reearchers and press wanted to put a positive spin to global warming (which of course, no one who wantes contineud funding would do), they could have tested the effects of extra CO2 and warmth on beneficial plants – say, soy beans or corn that is so in demand for biofuels now.