Poison Ivy: The Baleful Weed

Looked at objectively, Rhus radicans is an excellent plant. More widely known by its popular name, poison ivy, it belongs to a distinguished family, the Anacardiaceae, which includes mangoes (Mangifera indica), pistachios (Pistacia verna) and the signature genus of the family, cashew nuts (Anacardium occidentale). Its own genus, Rhus, bears a name assigned by ancient Greek botanists, who knew a close relative as a culinary plant, the acid seed of which is still used in Syrian and Lebanese cooking as one of the ingredients – with olive oil, thyme and oregano – of Zaatar, a special fragrant bread. The genus is widely distributed throughout the temperate and sub-tropical regions of … Continue reading

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