Dealing with Ragweed
Stuffy nose, weeping, itchy eyes? From August to the first frost periods, ragweed relentlessly pursues its victims. So without further delay, let’s learn to identify this weed whose Latin name is Ambrosia artemisifolia. Once unmasked, uprooting it will be a simple task.
Ragweed with its hairy stem and greyish green leaves
This plant, responsible for the discomforts of hay fever, looks pretty harmless and bears a resemblance to many weeds. And that is the secret to its success: being able to go unnoticed!
Short ragweed grows to an average height of 70 cm. Its stem, covered with hairs, is crowned by thin and deeply lobed, greyish green leaves. They are opposite at the base and alternate higher up. During the months of June and July, the plant bears tiny green flowers that grow closely together in a terminal spike. In August, it blooms, releasing billions of grains of pollen into the air. And that is when its harmful effects begin to spread!
An urban habitat
Before you can proceed to eliminate ragweed, you have to know where it grows. It spreads in colonies, feeding on the sun’s rays. Short ragweed seems to have a penchant for growing on railroad tracks, sidewalk edges, construction sites, vacant lots, a bare spot of land where grass has been burned off by calcium, a spot in the garden where the soil has been disturbed.
Rather unpleasant symptoms
Quite inconspicuously, short ragweed causes a great deal of discomfort among 17.5% or more of our population. Its pollen triggers a severe reaction in some unfortunate individuals:
- Nasal irritation
- Tingling at the back of the throat
- Repeated sneezing
- Weeping and swelling of the eyes
- Sinus congestion
- Brassy cough or even chronic asthma for some
Health problems, runaway social costs due to medical expenses and work absenteeism, these are just some of the consequences of this phenomenon deserving our full attention. A drastic solution is called for: eliminate the problem at the source by getting rid of the culprit!
Not to be confused with poison ivy
Poison ivy rather tends to grow near wooded areas. This plant bears trifoliolate leaves and hard berries varying from yellow to dull white in colour. The leaves are almost smooth, sometimes glossy and alternate on a woody stem. Contact with the skin immediately triggers an itching rash.
Ragweed, on the other hand, may be handled quite safely and can therefore be uprooted at any time without risk. Because the seeds are able to survive in the soil for over 40 years, it is important to adopt every possible measure to eliminate the plant as soon as it is identified.
Short ragweed seems to have a penchant for populated areas.
Poison ivy rather tends to grow near wooded areas.
Dealing with it… before August!
How do you get rid of this horrible plant? The simplest way is to uproot it. This is easily done since it has a scarcely developed root system. But bear in mind that this operation has to be performed in June or July at the latest, i.e. before the plant blooms.
As a means of preventing the spread of this weed, perform regular lawn maintenance. Mow the grass evenly, especially along the edges, making sure to fill in any bare spots.
Although uprooting remains the most practical method of elimination, regular mowing down of this undesirable weed is a useful option when an area is covered in ragweed. This will prevent the devastating effects of the plant’s blooming. However, if the situation is beyond your control, the services of a professional can undoubtedly save a ragweed-infested property.
For more information on ragweed, contact the Quebec Lung Association at 1 800 295-8111 ext. 232
via Dealing with Ragweed.