If you have a rash or other skin problem that you think might be plant related, trying using the search engine at the Botanical Dermatology Database. I checked out my family’s old enemy Pastinaca sativa (aka wild parsnip), and learned a few things. First of all, wild parsnip and cultivated parsnip are the same thing, and you can get the blisters and subsequent skin pigmentation from either. Secondly, if your skin is wet (and whose isn’t on a hot summer day?) the reaction is more likely. Third, “the active spectral band for evoking phytophotodermatitis from the plant was found to be 320-360nm.” Okay, so that last part isn’t too helpful, but the other two things were good to know. Eating parsnips poses no problem, but if you like them enough to grow them, wear long sleeves and gloves when you harvest them.
I do, of course, make diagrams of planting areas that are relatively complex, to be sure I have considered relationships of height, form, color, and seasonal change…though about eighty percent is lost in the translation to the real garden. I have concluded that the conception in the gardener’s head is an art form of one kind and the creation of an actual picture out of living plant material is an art form of quite another kind. Both are satisfying, but their relationship to each other is, in my experience, tenuous.
Comments on this entry are closed.