Friday, October 4, 2013

Botany picture #110: Heracleum mantegazzianum

Heracleum mantegazzianum (Apiaceae), Botanic Garden of Zürich, 2009. When I was a child there was quite a scare about this species in Germany. It had been introduced from the Caucasus as an ornamental and nectar source for beekeepers but had started invading natural habitats, and the problem is that the plants produce a substance that burns the skin when exposed to intense sunlight. Parents were worried that their children might play with it in summer, and many people were concerned whether it would outcompete native plants. The scare seems to have fizzled out over the years, or at least I did not hear much about it any more as I got older.

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