Another Reason to Appreciate Poison Ivy

Anne F in with knotweed

A research paper has just been published about the difficult invasive weed, Japanese knotweed. Seems that in some kinds of forests, this weed is taking over the understory and preventing new tree saplings from growing, thus threatening the future of these forests. 

The paper is really about the knotweed problem, but the researchers noticed that where the understory is poison ivy, biodiversity reigns. For all of its difficult characteristics, the team describes poison ivy as "more of a team player" than Japanese knotweed. After all, poison ivy is not an invasive: it has been in North America long, long before Europeans and probably long before any humans.

The authors of the paper are: Matthew J. Wilson, Anna E. Freundlich, and Christopher T. Martine. They point out that poison ivy is not going to attack and drive out the knotweed, but a forest that has an understory of poison ivy is a healthier forest. So we have to add this to our understanding and appreciate for poison ivy's place in nature. (Also see our blog post about Anita Sanchez's book, In Praise of Poison Ivy.)

Here is a link to an article about the knotweed research project, and here is a link to the actual paper, titled: "Understory dominance and the new climax: Impacts of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) invasion on native plant diversity and recruitment in a riparian woodland".

The project was funded by Bucknell University.

The photo of Anna Freundlich above was taken by Christopher Martine.