Poison ivy talk presented today

CHARLESTON — The Charleston Historical Society will host Anita Sanchez presenting “In Praise of Poison Ivy” at 2 p.m. today.

Deadly. Powerful. Beautiful. The much-hated plant called poison ivy is all of these things and more. Millions of people are allergic to poison ivy, which contains one of the most potent toxins on earth.

But the astounding paradox is that poison ivy is a plant of immense ecological value. Wild mammals from mice to moose, honeybees and butterflies, woodpeckers, wild turkeys, robins, cardinals and bluebirds all defy poison ivy’s nasty nature and feast on its leaves and fruit.

During this program, Sanchez will discuss the many roles of poison ivy in both human and natural history, starting with the plant’s long history as — of all things — a popular garden plant. She’ll discuss why North American plants like poison ivy were the stars of European gardens from Versailles to Buckingham Palace and Thomas Jefferson’s revolutionary native species in his Monticello gardens and the particular benefits of native plants for wildlife.

Sanchez is an environmental educator who worked for more than 25 years at three education centers operated by the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation.

She is the author of several books on science and nature for children, including “Karl, Get out of the Garden!”, a picture book biography of the eighteenth-century scientist Carolus Linnaeus. She also writes botany and history books for adults.

Admission is free and refreshments will be provided. For more information, call (518) 829-7592.

By Patricia Older

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