Allergies? Don't Blame Nature ...

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Wed, 07/22/2009 - 22:35.

Lately I have been reading the new book Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart. With its avocado green Goth/Victorian style cover and catchy subtitle (The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities) I expected this to be a fun and interesting read for the late hours when I can no longer work outside in my garden. Its even better than I expected! Its a small but weighty book with beautiful illustrations by Briony Morrow-Cribbs and Jonathon Rosen (there are no photographs of the plants discussed). As a long time gardener I thought I new the botanical world so well --how naive I was!

In a passage titled "Stop and Smell the Ragweed" I learned that humans are to an extent responsible for the increae in pollen in our environment in the 20th century -- pollen that makes life miserable for allergy suffers for weeks out of the year. The reason -- gardeners and landscapers now prefer to plant male trees and shrubs because they don't produce fruit and are therefore neater for the low maintenance suburban yard. Male plants do produce pollen/sperm which can be a lot more unpleasant to experience than some rotting fruit on the ground. Junipers, Yew Pines, and Mulberries are some of the big offenders that I frequently see in Cleveland and even my own back yard. Wicked Plants includes several tales of gardening gone horribly wrong.

I highly recommend Wicked Plants. You will come away with a new sense of respect for the plant world!


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Innocent Goldenrod

 Goldenrod is another innocent viictim in the allergy blame game, Evelyn. Its that beautiful golden yellow flower we will soon see in abundance in fields and roadsides. It makes a lovely yellow dye - I dyed baby flannel with it once for backing on a quilt for a friend's newborn. Just harvest a bushel of flowertops, boil them down, strain and add boric acid as a fixer.

Its also good for a host of ailments  -without side effects like a hairy tongue, swollen eyeballs and a shrunken penis!

But this is slightly different from your book? You mentioned your book in a previous post and I thought it sounded interesting! i just ordered it from the library - can't wait!