poison ivy

’s apparent from watching honey bees that they enjoy a tasty snack of poison ivy nectar. Having observed this, a reader asked “Is there such a thing as poison ivy honey?”

I vaguely remember references to poison ivy honey from way back, but I couldn’t remember the details. According to Honey Plants of North America (Lovell 1926), poison ivy has “small yellowish green flowers in clusters which yield much nectar, and the well-ripened honey is apparently harmless.”

What we usually call poison ivy is Toxicodendron radicans, a plant that grows pretty much across North American except for California and western Oregon. Poison oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum, is very similar but grows only on the west coast of the US and Canada. Another plant, sometimes called southern poison oak or Atlantic poison oak, Toxicodendron pubescens, grows in the southeastern states. There are other Toxicodendron species as well, but these three cover a lot of ground.