A weed ecologist with the USDA said that poison ivy may be advancing with climate change. As long as carbon dioxide continues to rise above average levels, then the weed will grow faster, bigger and meaner, according to a report from Scripps Howard News Service.
Missouri may have already had that problem, just in a different way: Cyndi Cogbill, of the Missouri Department of Conservation, said that every county in Missouri has poison ivy. And while the increased heat and moisture that accompanies global warming may aid the itchy ivy, it also helps all those other weeds grow.
"Poison ivy will respond just like anything else," Cogbill said. "Competition is built into the ecosystem, and it is competing with everything else out there."
The key is recognizing it. As Cogbill mentioned, there are a lot of other weeds out there that may look like poison ivy, but are not.
In a nutshell: Poison ivy has three main leaves on a sprig, and each of those leaves have sparsely placed, jagged teeth. It grows mainly in forests and along fence lines.
This is poison ivy.
Note the leaves of three, where the center leaf is on its own stem. Also note the sparse, jagged teeth of the leaves. Sometimes the stems will be red and it will have white berries. And if it's clinging to a post or tree, the roots will be exposed.
Not ivy: This is blackberry.
The teeth of the leaves are more jagged than poison ivy, and the stems are covered with small prickles. And if this plant had berries, they would be darkly colored.
Not ivy: This is fragrant sumac.
It may be a little stinky, but it's not poisonous, Cogbill said. Break open the leaves yourself to smell how pungent it is, and don't worry about getting an itchy rash. Fragrant sumac has the leaves of three, but no teeth on those leaves. It also grows more like a bush instead of a weed.
Not ivy: This is Virginia creeper.
While it has the same external roots and similarly shaped leaves, it has five leaves on each sprig instead of three. The ivy grows in a similar manner to poison ivy, as well. But the plant is safe: This particular plant grows right outside the door of Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center.
The ivy is covered in urushiol, the oil that gives the plant its rash reputation. It is potent stuff -- it can remain on other surfaces for years, according to the Scripps Howard report.
Cogbill said that washing it with a detergent that breaks down oils is best to soothe the itch, but the oil can linger on clothes, shoes or pets, so everything that gets touched should be washed as soon as possible.
Around Missouri, outdoorsy types don't need to worry about the plant's oil-soaked cousins, poison oak and poison sumac.
"Poison sumac has never been found in Missouri, and poison oak has been found in only a few counties," she said. "Poison ivy can be found in every county in Missouri."
Cogbill said she hears concerns from people during nature hikes and other outdoor ventures, who easily confuse Missouri's many weeds.
Cogbill said that kids can easily remember the rhymes, "Leaves of three, let it be" and "Berries white, poisonous sight." Those two rules will help keep kids away so they can let you know whether a plant is dangerous or not.
Classic heavy eggplant Parmesan gets lighter take
I've always been a big fan of eggplant Parmesan. There are a bunch of ways to make this classic Italian dish, but I'm partial to what you might call the full-fat version: thick slices of breaded eggplant that are sauteed, then baked until creamy, and finally topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese.
Cheryle Finley: Read instructions to avoid baking failures
One of my favorite things to do is bake. I love the smell as the cake, muffins or cookies are nearing the end of their time in the oven and have a difficult time waiting for them to cool enough for consumption.
Amanda Stone: Simple mixes are also healthy
I get it. Sometimes the prospect of planning a meal and then executing said meal is daunting.
Artist to demonstrate polymer clay's ease of use during Wildcat Glades sessions
Cyndi Cogbill learned about polymer clay years ago when she used to work at Prairie State Park. The material let her make replicas of Indian trade beads for presentations about history at the park.
Artists sought to transform footballs for upcoming festival
The SEK Art Fest is kicking off its second season by seeking artists to transform 36 giant footballs into works of art, and underwriters to help fund the project.
Marta Churchwell: New steel drum group at MSSU off to great start
Suddenly, the sounds all come together, and the room is filled with light-hearted Caribbean music. I can't stop a smile from breaking across my face. It's feel-good music. I want to break into a calypso and sip a pina colada from a coconut. No wonder islanders are such laid back, happy people, I think to myself.
Jeremiah Tucker: No issues with rock band's take on national anthem
Madison Rising, "America's most patriotic rock band," made headlines by playing an unconventionally rockin' version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" to open the Daytona 500.
Joe Hadsall: Persistence pays off in hunt for new phone
Finally, I got what I wanted. The phone I've been coveting since it was released in May is now in my hands. I'm so overjoyed with my new BlackBerry Q10 that I was tempted to write this column using its incredible keyboard.
Dave Woods: Spring brings changes to Branson lineup
I remember getting a day at Silver Dollar City once a year. But spending the night at a fancy motel with a swimming pool? No way. The thought of spending several days and nights on vacation was out of the question.
Benji Tunnell: Ramis' influence responsible for much of today's comedy
Ramis was a leading pioneer, a trendsetter among a generation of trendsetters, and his impact can still be seen.
- More Lifestyles Headlines
- Classic heavy eggplant Parmesan gets lighter take