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 both hemispheres, and one or another member of it has been put to almost every economic use, providing, variously, cooked greens, spices, cooling beverages, tanning, dyestuffs, medicinal substances, varnishes and – in the oriental species R. verniciflua – fine Japanese lacquer.
The full article is a pleasure to read and a compendium of useful information: Poison Ivy
Author Bio: Wayne Winterrowd was one of New England’s most versatile landscape designers. His understanding of seasonal rhythms and his passion for plants underlies his partnership of over 30 years with Joe Eck in North Hill Garden Design Associates in Readsboro, Vermont. Their recent books include A Year at North Hill: Four Seasons in a Vermont Garden, Living Seasonally: The Kitchen Garden and The Table at North Hill. In 2003, with artist Pamela Stagg, he published Roses: A Celebration. Mr. Winterrowd died unexpectedly in September 2010 after a short illness.