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Poisonous weeds in the garden - which plants you should definitely remove


Highlights: Ambrosia, ragweed and giant hogweed are all dangerous for humans and animals. Ambrosia contains the strongest pollen allergen in the world. Giant hogweed causes painful burns on the skin and overrides the skin's natural UV protection. ragwort is an ancient native plant and can spread very well thanks to its long-lived seeds. occupational herb daisy is a neophyte and displaces native (endangered) plants in some areas of Germany. It is also dangerous for horses, but also for cattle.

Ornament or weed? Opinions often differ here. With these plants, however, you should get to the root of the problem.

Kassel – Many people prefer a natural garden. What others would call a weed becomes useful here: a retreat for hedgehogs, a source of food for butterflies or an oasis of well-being for songbirds. However, some plants should also be removed here – in contrast to this very healthy weed.

Intruder in the home garden: the poison bears a divine name

Ambrosia originates from North America, but has also been introduced to our latitudes. The plant reaches a height of up to one and a half meters and resembles mugwort: the leaves of both species are pinnate, that is, they are composed of at least two partial leaves located on the midrib. Those of the allergen plant, however, appear finer and more delicate. The undersides of the leaves also differ: in mugwort it is silvery-grey, while in ragweed it is green.

Ambrosia should be removed from your own garden. © Patrick Pleul / dpa

Ambrosia does not live up to what the name of the Greek food of the gods suggests. In Australia, for example, the nickname "asthma plant" has already become commonplace, because ragweed contains the strongest pollen allergen in the world. The pollen has a more allergenic effect than all grass and tree pollen known in Germany combined. Another problem is how quickly the plant reproduces: a single one has tens of thousands of seeds, each of which can still germinate after up to 40 years.

Bright yellow and poisonous, for humans and animals: ragwort has been native to us for a long time

It blooms bright yellow and grows to a height of 30 to 100 centimetres: ragwort. Unlike ragweed, ragwort is not a neophyte, so the plant was not introduced. Instead, ragwort is an ancient native plant. Like ragweed, it also has an enormous potential of very long-lived seeds to help it spread: after flowering in June or July, a single plant produces up to 150,000 seeds. These are optimally prepared for the best possible spread: they are capable of flying and germinate for up to 20 years.

Plant speciesCauses in humans
AmbrosiaSevere allergic reactions
RagwortBy eating honey: creeping liver damage
Giant hogweedBurns and reduction of UV protection of the skin
Occupational herbNothing. Displaces native (endangered) plants

In recent years, the bright yellow plant has become a danger to grazing animals. It is particularly dangerous for horses, but also for cattle. The tricky thing about the plant is that the liver-damaging poison, which is present in all parts of the plant, is retained even when dried. The plant can also be dangerous for humans: By eating honey, for example, the poison can accumulate and insidiously damage the liver.

Giant hogweed: dangerous for the skin

The giant hogweed has no natural enemies and can grow up to four meters high. Its juice causes painful burns on the skin. It also overrides the skin's natural UV protection. Like ragweed, it is actually not native to Germany: the plant originally comes from the Caucasus.


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In addition to its tall growth, the giant hogweed can also be recognized by its strong stem, which reaches up to 10 centimeters in diameter, and its three- or five-part leaves. These are pubescent on the underside. The white or yellow-green inflorescences reach 50 to 80 centimeters in diameter.

Attention, danger of confusion! The danger in daisy garb

Also, the white occupational herb is a neophyte. Like ragweed, it originates from North America, from where it was introduced in the 18th century. Unlike the other plant species mentioned, it is not poisonous, but dangerous in another way: it can spread very well thanks to its more than 50,000 seeds capable of flying. In this way, the occupational herb is gradually displacing native, sometimes endangered plants.

As in the case of chamomile or daisy, the middle of the occupational herbis yellow, while the numerous leaves are white. To differentiate: In contrast to the occupational herb, chamomile has undivided, coarsely toothed leaves. While daisies grow up to about 15 centimeters high, the occupational herb reaches a height of about one meter.

By the way, if you would like to spend less time on gardening, you might find what you are looking for in the "black box gardening" trend.

Source: merkur

All life articles on 2023-06-09

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