Ragweed

 Unassuming ragweed getting ready to bloom at the corner of Bluebird Gardens.

Unassuming ragweed getting ready to bloom at the corner of Bluebird Gardens.

Ragweed

If there is one weed that is misunderstood, it is ragweed. Well, maybe not so much misunderstood as mis-identified. All of those reports of daily high pollen counts are due to this unassuming plant, not the showier goldenrod, which often gets the blame.

 A showy yellow goldenrod in bloom in my garden is not responsible for my sneezing.

A showy yellow goldenrod in bloom in my garden is not responsible for my sneezing.

 

22 Varieties of Goldenrod

Missouri has 22 varieties of goldenrod blooming from June through September, making them seem interchangeable as garden flowers go but they are different varieties. The bright yellow flowers, cousins to daisies, are hard to miss, especially when they bloom in large swaths across fields.

I like Goldenrod because it is a hardy plant, often establishing itself in poor soils and adding a gold tone to our fall palate. They are perennials so they basically take care of themselves.

Ragweed

Ragweed, on the other hand, is a quiet, unassuming aster cousin. They are distributed throughout North America, primarily the southwest. A single plant can produce about a billion grains of pollen per season. It causes about half of all cases of pollen-associated allergic reactions in North America, starting in July through the first frost.

 A closeup of ragweed flowers in bloom, causing grief to allergy sufferers.

A closeup of ragweed flowers in bloom, causing grief to allergy sufferers.

Although I appreciate that people with allergies, including myself, keep a close eye on the pollen and mold reports, I can't help but hope my buzzing bees also know about this generous pollen source. The plants are not very showy so I don't know that they attract a bee's attention. When conditions are right, bees can get a second "flow" in fall to store honey for winter but I have yet to see bees on ragweed.

Does ragweed cause you allergy grief?

Charlotte