Hal's Hat

Hal's Hat

Monday, August 19, 2013

Happy Ragweed Day!

ragweed in bloom. 
I just learned that August 15th is beginning of ragweed season. This makes sense as I spent a good part of the morning yesterday pulling giant ragweed from Myrna's school playground.
Here is what I want: I want YOU to identify ragweed. I want you to pull it (it's extremely easy to pull)- every kind you see. I want you to breathe easier.
Why? Ragweed is a serious irritant- it causes hayfever in an estimated 15-30% of people. This means nasal irritation, phlegm, itchy eyes, chest and lung irritation and inflammation, etc. You know the drill don't you? Even though I'm not a terribly allergic person, this pollen irritates the shit out of me (sorry)! And it is cumulative... while it might not irritate you as a kid, the more exposure, the more irritated you will get. And then your body has a histamine reaction to this irritation. That is why many people take an anti-histamine. While I understand and do so occasionally myself, I try to stop the cycle so that I don't have to. Histamine reactions in the body can be serious- Encyclopedia Brittanica ahoy!
Where? All open soil can be a potential site for ragweed. It seems to like poor, disturbed soils. It targets alleys, empty lots, and untended garden sites. If you walk into any alley in Lawrence, you'll see it I would guess.

So how do you do this? I'd recommend long sleeves and whatever else you've got- gloves, pants, shoes. You know. After you're done, wash it all and wash yourself. You will have pollen all over you (hair, skin, etc). Ragweed won't cause an itchy bumpy skin rash- except in the most delicate individuals, I'd guess. So I just pull it out bare handed. But don't do this. My hands are wrecked. Save yourself!

Kinds: Small leaved ragweed is about 18" high and has fine ferny leaves. 
this is the small leaved ragweed. 
A giant ragweed: what those leaves look like. 
This is giant ragweed. Just step into your alley to survey that 5' tall giant staring back at you. It's bloom covered in pollen, right at nose level. 

How do I cope with hayfever you ask? I use homeopathic hayfever tabs from Hylands. These work moderately well. I try to be preventative- don't let your body get really worked up. As I said, it's a reaction that will just crank itself up like a sleep-deprived 4 year old. Head that off at the pass! Take it many times a day. If you let it go too far, you might as well take an Allegra, Zyrtec etc. I'm not even going to research that stuff. When I resort to it, I'm usually so miserable I just don't care. 
Also, this year I really am making a tincture from the blooming tops of ragweed. I've heard this is the most effective but haven't tried it. I will keep you posted on results! Also, I'm gathering leaves to dry for infusions/ tea. I wouldn't try the infusion if you are seriously allergic. But the tea would be a safe stepping stone.
If anyone wants to do a weed-walk and plant identification walk, please contact me! I have time in my schedule. 

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