It is with the great distinction as a former summer camp counselor, able to spot noxious foliage from at least two yards away, that we bring you this piece of news: an already irritating foe of campers, hikers, and forest-bound folks everywhere is getting meaner. That's right: poison ivy (and its cousins oak and sumac) are getting more virulent. Why?
As NPR reports, the toxic plants are growing faster and bigger—and becoming more poisonous—because of rising levels of carbon dioxide coupled with disruption in forests.
Carbon dioxide acts as a fuel for plants, and as its presence in the atmosphere (as a greenhouse gas caused by emissions, among other things) is giving all plants a little boost, but according to scientists is mainly affecting vines, and seems to especially be affecting the noxious ones.
The change is mainly being seen in forests that have seen some disruption (read: destruction). If this sounds like a scene straight out of the Little Shop of Horrors, we're with you.
So if you take a camping trip this summer, or spend time walking through forested areas, even on your local hike and bike trail, take extra caution to look out for these poisonous plants. And maybe listen for someone whispering, "Feed me, Seymour."
For more information: Poison Ivy Growing Faster, More Virulent at NPR