Aug 15 2009
Ragweed season officially begins every year on August 15.
Mercifully I have never been allergic to it but I’ve had my share of outdoor allergies. I know the agony of a sneezy, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes and the scratchy throat that itches all the way back into your ears. Misery! Once the itchy reaction starts it’s hard to stop.
Eventually, through sneezy experimentation, I figured out what causes my allergies — hay, cut grass, marigolds, cut ground ivy, privet flowers, chrysanthemums — and I learned not to sniff them deeply. It helps that I live in the city where there aren’t extensive lawns. And no, you can’t tell me that cut grass smells sweet. It smells like hayfever.
So ragweed sufferers, know thine enemy. The leaves are dark green and deeply cut. The flower is a pale green-yellow spike that it doesn’t look much like a flower at all.
Common ragweed’s flower is ugly because it isn’t trying to attract insects. This plant is pollinated by the wind so the flower spike stands like a flagpole with loads of pollen that “poof” easily into the air. That’s why it’s so good at making you sneeze.
To add insult to injury, its Latin name is Ambrosia artemisiifolia. Ambrosia?!
Good luck … and take an antihistamine before you go outdoors.
(photos by Chuck Tague)
p.s. Ragweed is native to North America but has been labeled it as a noxious weed in some U.S. states. I’ll bet the plant labelers have allergies.