Strongly allergenic plant: Ambrosia extends the annual allergy season

Ambrosia pollen ensures an even longer allergy season
Ambrosia is one of the strongest allergenic plants in the world. In this country, too, it is spreading further and further. Your pollen will fly longer than that of other plants, thus extending the allergy season. According to experts, the imported plant species could also be exterminated in this country.

Introduced plant prolongs the suffering for allergy sufferers
For a number of years now, allergy sufferers in Germany have been preparing themselves for the fact that, after birch, hazel and grass, they are repeatedly tormented by pollen from new, immigrated species. Ambrosia in particular makes life difficult for many hay fever sufferers. The plant imported from America grows aggressively and extends the allergy time. According to experts, it could be eradicated again. But too little is being done.

Spreading of the ragweed plant
The massive spread of the ragweed plant has been pointed out for years.

"An ambrosia plant can shed between 3000 and 60,000 seeds in its one-year life cycle," said Bavaria's Minister of Health Melanie Huml (CSU) in a message from the dpa news agency. "It can also release up to a billion pollen into the air."

The mugwort ambrosia (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) from North America, also known as the upright or mugwort leaved ragweed, was probably introduced to Europe via bird feed. In the meantime, the herb also finds suitable growing conditions in this country.

Ten pollen per cubic meter of air is sufficient
According to experts, ambrosia is one of the strongest allergenic plants in the world. About 80 percent of all allergy sufferers are allergic to ragweed. In addition, the herb can provoke hypersensitivity even in previously insensitive people without allergies.

"Already ten pollen per cubic meter of air is enough to trigger symptoms such as tears, itchy eyes, sensitivity to light, headache, fatigue and hay fever in pollen allergy sufferers," says a leaflet from the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment.

And further: "An exceptionally high proportion of those affected also suffer from breathing difficulties up to asthma."

Mostly found in warmer cities
According to Matthias Werchan from the German Pollen Information Service Foundation, Ambrosia is mainly represented in the warmer south of Germany.

The Ministry of Health in Bavaria alone recently counted 393 larger stocks in the Free State. According to Werchan, there are also large stocks in Brandenburg, for example.

The weeds, which are up to 1.80 meters high, only flower from around mid-July, the pollen count extends from August to October. As a result, the time of suffering for some allergy sufferers is extended by around two months.

The introduced plants grow particularly aggressively on the side of the road. Because nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from exhaust gases changes the protein composition of the pollen, as researchers at the Helmholtz Center in Munich have found.

Tear out plants with gloves and face mask
In addition, according to Werchan, there is another problem on roadsides where the pollen is becoming more aggressive: “The green strips are regularly mowed on the motorways. Then the plants are pulled along and the seeds are distributed in the soil. ”There, they could germinate even years later.

The Ministry of Health in Munich - as well as other experts - recommend that the plant be torn out and disposed of with the household waste in a plastic bag. This should only be done with gloves and, in the case of flowering plants, even with a face mask.

The responsible authorities should be consulted for stocks of around 100 plants or more.

The Julius Kühn Institute has been campaigning nationwide and the Free State of Bavaria with action programs against ambrosia since 2007.

"So far, an uncontrollable spread like in other countries has been prevented," said Minister Huml, according to dpa.

Ambrosia is almost extinct again in Switzerland
Werchan and Durner believe, however, that too little is being done in Germany. There are just under 40 measuring stations in the entire Republic to record the pollen count.

Werchan also referred to Switzerland in the agency report, which had legally anchored that ambrosia must be combated. "The plant is almost extinct again," said the expert.

In this country there are only local actions. "It is much cheaper to control than to wait." Huml explained: "We are observing in Bavaria whether a mandatory reporting and control obligation for ambrosia plants could also be necessary for us."

However, Professor Jörger Durner, head of the Institute for Biochemical Plant Pathology at the Helmholtz Center in Munich, has something good to say about ambrosia: According to dpa, he said: "This is a great model for research because a single plant develops so many pollen." (ad)

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