April 30, 2017

Allergy Alert

Ambrosia artemisiifolia - common ragweed | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Ambrosia artemisiifolia – common ragweed | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Ambrosia artemisiifolia has what may be the most deceptive name if you think ambrosia is the food of the gods in Greek mythology. This plant, however, is the fuel of hay fever and is better known as common ragweed. The North American native is now found throughout the world, growing to about 3 feet in height and disperses its pollen via the wind, hence its allergen status. It can be invasive as it produces a hefty amount of seeds, which are rich in oils and are also a source of food for birds and small mammals. Interestingly, the pollen can be harvested and is used by the pharmaceutical industry to create medicines to treat hay fever. As for the artemisiifolia moniker, that comes from the shape of its leaves, which were considered to resemble Artemisia, or wormwood.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.