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Compositae or Asteraceae
The composite (also known as the daisy or sunflower family), as Compositae or Asteraceae are known, is one of the largest plant families. Almost 20,000 species are contained within this family. Most of these species are herbs but there are also some shrubs, trees and vines. The family includes many edible sala plants (e.g., lettuce, endive, chicory and artichoke), cultivated species such as the marigolds, daisies, sunflowers and chrysanthenums as well as many common weeds and wildflowers. It is primarily the latter, for example ragweed and mugwort , which are involved in pollen-induced seasonal allergies. [ 3 ]
Ragweed refers to the group of aproximately 15 species of weed plants,
belonging to the Compositae family. Most ragweed species are native
to North America, althought they are also found in Eastern Europe and
the French Rhône valley [ 2 ] .
The ragweeds are annuals characterised by their rough, hairy stems and
mostly lobed or divided leaves. The ragweed flowers are greenish and inconspicuously
concealed in small heads on the leaves.
A perennial weed of the genus Taraxacum and of the family Compositae . Althought the dandelion is a plant native to Eurasia, it is also common in temperate regions of North America. The most familiar species of dandelion is T. officinale , easily identifiable from its single, yellow flower and the fruit, which is a ball-shaped cluster of many small, white, tufted, one-seeded fruits for wind distribution. Although often considered a pest, the dandelion is also cultivated for food and medicine. The roots are often used as a coffee substitue and a laxative. One species is also cultivated to produce latex. [ 3 ]
The goldenrods are about 100 species of weedy, usually perennial herbs of the genus Solidago and Compositae family. Most species are native to North America and are characteristic of eastern North America where up to 60 species are found. Goldenrods are hardy and grow almost anywhere, from mountain-sides and woodlands to swamps. Both the Canadian goldenrod ( S. canadensis ) and the European Solidago virgaurea are cultivated as garden ornaments. [ 1 ]
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris, A. campestris, A. dracunculus, A. rupestris, A. mutellina, A. absinthium, A. maritima, A. austriaca, A. pontica, A. laciniata, A. abrotanum, A. annua)
A shrubby weed most commonly found on waste land. Mugwort can reach heights of up to 2 meters (7 feet) and is characterised by quite small, yellow to reddish-brown flowers and a woody stem. The mugwort pollen season (in Central Europe) is generally late-July to September, with a peak around mid-August. Mugwort is known to cross react with almost all members of the Compositae family, especially the ragweeds , as well as dandelions , sunflowers, chamomilla and all daisy-like flowers. Mugwort also displays an important cross reaction in the context of food-allergies to celery. [ 2 ]
Helianthus ( Helianthus tuberosus )
A member of the Compositae or sunflower family. Helianthus is the only root plant native to North America, which has gained economic importance. Its tubers are potato-like and a common foodstuff in both Europe and China. The tubers also contain inulin, which is an important source of fructose for diabetics. Alcohol can also be produced from Helianthus tubers. [ 3 ]
 The Encyclopaedia Britannica Online : http://www.britannica.com
 European Pollen Information : http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/paleo/epd/
 The Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Third Edition : http://www.encyclopaedia.com
 Martin, Paul S., and Drew, Charles M., 1969. "Scanning electron photomicrographs of southwestern pollen grains."
Journal Arizona Academy of Sciences 5 ( 3 ): 147 - 176. Palynology Department, University of Arizona : http://geo.arizona.edu/palynology
 Martin, Paul S., and Drew, Charles M., 1970. "Additional scanning electron micrographs of southwestern pollen grains."
Journal Arizona Academy of Sciences 6 ( 2 ): 140 - 161. Palynology Department, University of Arizona : http://geo.arizona.edu/palynology
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