Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
Allergies? Don't Blame Nature ...
Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Wed, 07/22/2009 - 23:35.
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!