Ambrosia pollen: a danger to humans

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Ministry warns of the spread of ragweed pollen

The Ambrosia plant genus includes several dozen species. The species Ambrosia artemisiifolia is considered to be particularly allergenic. The species was originally native to eastern North America. Carried away by humans as a result of the global movement of goods, it is now causing major problems relating to agriculture and health in many areas of the world.

Because of human inattention and favored by climate change, it can spread over a large area and thus represents a considerable danger to the health of the population - and roadsides. These days the flowering time of the plant begins - and thus the most dangerous phase for allergy sufferers.

Dangerous pollen The tiny pollen of Ambrosia artemisiifolia is considered to be particularly aggressive and, according to allergists, can trigger asthma in addition to allergies such as hay fever, headache, anxiety. Ambrosia leads to health problems for many people. According to the world, the crop ranks fifth among the most aggressive newly immigrated species on the list of the 100 worst invasive species. According to estimates, 12 to 20 percent of Germans are allergic to this type, which is also called the erect ragweed

How dangerous is the plant? Mugwort ambrosia is highly allergenic. Even people who have not yet had a pollen allergy can develop an allergy from the plant. If you suffer from hay fever, you will most likely be allergic to ragweed pollen. There are also skin reactions when in contact with the plant, which can cause itching and mild burning. These cases are currently quite rare. There are only a few small stocks - for example in Hamburg.

How do I recognize a mugwort anvil? Depending on the location, the size varies between 20 centimeters and almost two meters. It stays rather small in very lean, dry locations. The stem is heavily branched, the flowers are green and are located under a bract that looks like a small umbrella. The stems of the ambrosia are mostly reddish and hairy, very robust and branch out strongly. The yellow flower heads form at the end of the branches in an ear-like cluster. The pollen is released from the flowers in the morning when the dew has dried.

Ambrosia has very inconspicuous flowers that sit in different places on the plant. The female flowers arranged in balls are located in the leaf axils. The small, male flowers protrude as dense clusters at the end of the shoot and dust thousands of yellow pollen during the flowering period (late July to early October), which are spread by the wind.

Why is the plant spreading more and more at the moment? Ambrosia loves warmth. Like many new species, it occurs mainly where it is relatively warm. The problem has existed in southern Europe for a long time. In Germany, Ambrosia first conquered southern Germany, but now specimens are appearing again and again in northern Germany. The most common way for us to do this is through bird feed. Winter feed for domestic birds, for example, often also contains ragweed seeds.

What do I do with the plants? Property owners and users can help combat this harmful plant. For this purpose, the plants with their roots should be torn out and then destroyed, but not with organic waste or compost, but with household waste. Gloves should be worn. If the plant is already blooming, a dust mask should be used. Larger stocks, however, should be reported to the environmental office of the municipality concerned.

Does the plant also cause ecological problems? Mugwort ambrosia is a so-called neophyte, that is, an immigrated species. It has hardly any natural enemies with us. Ecologically, however, it is a rather minor problem. Unlike the giant hogweed, for example, which spreads massively and displaces native species. (fr)

Picture: M.E. /

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