? If you are one of those late summer hay fever sufferers, I can take one thing off your mind. Goldenrod is not to blame for your condition. Sure, the yellow G ?rod flower begins to bloom about the same time your nose starts to run, but it?s a matter of coincidence. The real culprit is ragweed. The Giant Ragweed is the biggest offender- as you might have guessed by the name.
? It?s all about the pollen, you see.? Goldenrod has big sticky pollen. It takes an insect to move big sticky pollen around. Assuming you don?t let insects to fly up your nose, you are safe from any reaction to goldenrod pollen. ?Giant ragweed has dinky dry drifty pollen. It only takes a puff of wind to move it into your nose. Ragweed itty bitty bad, Goldenrod sticky big good. That?s about it.
? O.K., I see that I have a few more paragraphs to go here. I?d better give you a little bit more. This is supposed to be a nature blog with ?facts? and ?explanations,? isn?t it? Well, let me better introduce you to your enemy and mine, the Giant Ragweed. You can see the picture above and here.
? The G ?rag is easy to identify. ?It?s a big annual plant that can get up to 17 feet high. It has large three to five lobed leaves that look something like maple leaves. They don?t really look like maple leaves, but I couldn?t think of another leaf to compare it to off hand. ?The floral parts, you know those nasty things responsible for the pollen, are born on spikes. Even a close up look at the flowers (see here) reveals that they are without petals, sepals, or beauty.? The individual flowers are best described as nodding and un-noticable.
? Somebody figured out that an individual Giant Ragweed plant can produce some 10 million pollen grains daily and more than a billion during its complete blooming cycle.? That?s a lot of drifting pollen even if you cut those numbers in half and then divide by three. ?Remember, every one of those pollen grains are easily carried aloft and a-sneezing.
? At this point, you might expect me to say that this is an alien weed from someplace in Central Europe. Actually, this plant is an indigenous species? which means it is native!? Yes, it belongs here just like buffalos, bald eagles, and black bears. The only thing foreign about this plant is its scientific name which happens to be Ambrosia trifida. Believe it or not, that means ?three parted leaf plant which is food for the gods.?? That is a god awful name, if you ask me.
? With all the wonderful delights in the universe, I find it hard to believe that any but the lesser ?gods? would consider this plant a delicacy. Deities apparently don?t get hayfever do they? This is not to say that the G ?rag hasn?t proven useful for us earthbound human types. Depending on the tribal affiliation, it has been used as a disinfectant, lung treatment, anti-diarrheal, and even a psychological aide by Native Americans. The directive for this latter category was to ?chew the root in order to drive away fear of the night.? ?
? Do you want to know another strange fact?? Apparently night crawlers are responsible for spreading the Giant Ragweed. ?Your average worm buries 127 seeds over a 500 square foot area, according to one study.? It looks like the lowly are responsible for the spreading of giants. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that night crawlers are originally from Europe.
? Now don?t you feel bad for ragg?n on the harmless little goldenrod all these years when you shoulda been directing those negative vibes elsewhere? The only right thing to do is to chew on a ragweed root, go out into the night without fear, find a crawler, and chew him out. It?s time to place your hayfever blame where it really belongs.