Something Wild: 5 Plants to Watch for In Chattanooga
Contributed By: Guest Blogger, Lucy Crawford
The Chattanooga area is known for its prime location on the Tennessee River as well as its proximity to many beautiful gardens, scenic areas and naturistic spots like the Appalachian Mountains. A few minutes from downtown Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain is one of the most scenic areas. Featuring hidden waterfalls, forests, hiking, sweeping views and beautiful picnic spots, many residents and tourists enjoy the natural features of the area. Make the most of your outdoor time by knowing which plants and allergens to avoid during your carefree exploration. A little knowledge can make a great day outdoors even better.
1. Spring Pollen
Chattanooga’s location in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains creates a bowl-like effect for spring pollen. The shape of the landscape in this scenic city along with the gorgeous spring blooming trees and native plants sends plenty of pollen into the Chattanooga Valley. Plan ahead for this if you are one the millions of folks with spring pollen allergies.
2. Poison Ivy
Many outdoor enthusiasts know how to spot Poison Ivy given its common 3 leaf structure. The rash-producing plant is prevalent in the Chattanooga area.. It tends to cover the ground in the woods and can wind its way up tree trunks. The leaves of Poison Ivy will turn red in the fall and the plant will produce small white or cream berries. The berries contain more urushiol, the oil that causes reactions, than the leaves of Poison Ivy. Many a hiker has been surprised by the weed when going to a secluded spot to relieve themselves.
3. Poison Oak
Poison Oak grows as a shrub or vine and features small tan, yellow, white, or cream-colored berries in the fall. This plant is much like Poison Ivy but less common in Chattanooga. Although Poison Oak can feature three leaves, it sometimes has up to seven, making it a harder plant to identify. You’ll certainly know when you’ve come in contact with it, when the rash, blisters, and constant itching begins.
This unsuspecting plant looks much like an overgrown weed in the wild but you’ll notice the curly soft white hairs of the plant that are laced with chemicals. Nettle is oftentimes referred to as “stinging nettle” because of the sensation you get after touching the fuzzy hairs of the plant. If you end up touching Nettle make sure to rinse the affected area immediately. The Nettle hairs can stick to skin so make sure to remove any hairs that could continue to cause problems.
5. Fall Ragweed
Known as the main culprit for hay fever, Ragweed blooms and begins producing pollen in the late summer months. The pollen continues to release up until the first frost in Chattanooga. The green weed can grow quite tall and blends in nicely with surrounding plants. But you’ll know that there’s ragweed pollen in the air when you see Goldenrod begin to bloom. While it’s relatively easy to control the poisonous and allergy-producing plants in your backyard, they will continue to grow like wildflowers in the wild. Consider spending the bulk of your outdoor time in the afternoon or early evening on heavy ragweed pollen days since these plants usually send up pollen during the morning hours.
As you explore, it won’t take long to discover why Chattanooga is known as the Scenic City. It’s easy to protect yourself against these reaction producing plants by simply avoiding them. Just remember, “Leaves of three, let it be,” and “Berries white, run in fright!” And even on a warm, summer day protect yourself with long sleeves and pants while hiking in the woods. Your arms and legs will appreciate it.
Lucy Crawford is a home design and DIY writer, and lover of herbal tea. With her busy hands, she is always challenging herself with a new DIY project. She enjoys designing spaces where she can relax and enjoy a good book.