Ragweed

It was with dismay that I discovered there was ragweed growing in our front lawn. None of the plants were particularly large but, unfortunately, some had begun to flower. Ragweed pollen is a primary cause of allergic rhinitis, AKA hay fever in late summer and fall for many Midwesterners. While I am not allergic to ragweed, Kat is and, therefore, I have a particular anathema for ragweed.

An image of ragweed growing in our front yard.
Ragweed growing in our front yard

There are three species of ragweed native to Minnesota. Ragweed can be found growing everywhere in the Twin Cities, including along the medians and shoulders of freeways and highways. Because of its widespread prevalence, there is no chance of eradicating it. I just do my small part by removing it from our yard whenever I discover it.

The following are photographs of Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) taken by Katy Chayka of Minnesota Wildflowers.

An image of common ragweed
Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). Copyright 2007 k. chayka

An image of Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)
Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). Copyright 2007 k. chayka

An image of common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)
Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). Copyright 2007 k. chayka

A point I would like to clear up is that goldenrod does not cause hay fever. Goldenrod and ragweed are completely different species. Both are native to Minnesota, are widespread, bloom in late summer and fall, and grow near each other.

An image of goldenrod in our backyard
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) growing in our backyard.

Goldenrod pollen is spread via pollinating insects whereas ragweed is dispersed via the wind. One clue that indicates goldenrod relies on insects for pollination is that its flowers are bright yellow. Ragweed flowers, not needing pollinating insects, are hardly noticeable. As such, whereas there may not be much goldenrod pollen floating in the air, ragweed needs to release a lot of pollen into the air. It is all the ragweed pollen floating in the air that triggers allergic rhinitis in so many people.

An image of goldenrod
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) growing in our backyard.

While goldenrod can be a nuisance because it can crowd out other species, I much prefer the fields of goldenrod growing in our yard to the stands of ragweed along the highway.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)

Five years ago, we planted a small native wildflower garden in our back yard. Every year we add more native wild flowers. One of the first plants we planted was Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia). They have established themselves and are slowly spreading.

Picture of Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)

Picture of Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea angustifolia)

Picture of Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea angustifolia)

A frequent visitor to the coneflowers are Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus).

Picture of two monarch butterflies

Picture of a Monarch butterfly on a Purple Coneflower