Pro tip: if you find yourself communing with nature near the Pulaski Bridge in Long Island City, steer clear of this lush patch of poison ivy that has taken over an area right off Jackson Avenue and is now encroaching onto the sidewalk.
Anessa Hodgson, a press officer for the NYC Parks Department, confirmed that the leaves you see in these photos are from the Toxicodendron radicans, a.k.a. poison ivy plant, which will render you itchy, blistery and miserable if you come into contact with it. That's a particularly hellish trifecta when you factor in NYC summer humidity levels.
Local resident Rachel McKeon tells us residents of a nearby building have "complained via 311 about the poison ivy and nothing was done other than put up a small sign which is now completely warped by the plant and unreadable." She added, "This is truly shocking and a fine example of NYC bureaucracy... You can't make this shit up!"
The owner of this bucolic patch of land is the MTA, and they're also in charge of that fence along with any landscaping on their property. The poison ivy appears to have grown from the untamed patch of land behind the fence, which is located right next to the LIRR tracks.
A spokesperson for the MTA, Aaron Donovan, confirmed with Gothamist that they own the property. "Yes, we own the land," Donovan said, clarifying, "The MTA (actually the Long Island Rail Road) owns the land and the City of New York owns air rights 22 feet above the land."
So once the growing poison ivy canopy reaches beyond 22 feet, it's the city's problem, too.
(Photo by Rachel McKeon)
Poison ivy is not unusual, even in this town, but according to the city, "It is illegal to let poison ivy grow on a property in NYC."
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Director of Horticulture, Ronnit Bendavid-Val, also confirmed with us that this is poison ivy, and told Gothamist, "I’ve seen it all over the city, crawling up lampposts, on fences... The past three years, with the mild winters and long wet springs [we've] seen a huge growth of poison ivy and other weeds that spread through their roots (like bindweed, mugwort, porcelainberry, akebia and more)." Time to bring in the poison ivy-eating goats.
Update, July 11th: At a press conference on Thursday morning, the MTA told us they would be removing this poison ivy patch.