Thursday, July 1, 2010


I'm not sure I've been clear to those of you who do not know why we are in Alaska! George is serving as Pastor of Unalaska United Methodist Church for June and July while their pastor is in the Pennsylvania area visiting family and touching bases with churches there who support this Alaska Mission Church. Hence, we are living in the parsonage, and caring for not only the family dogs, but also the family house plants. But that is another story.

The lay leader of the church took us on a boat and cannery tour. She works as one of 18 state inspectors regarding seafood processing, and needs to keep track of what new boats come to dock. She also took us on a detour up to the Pyramid Trail area, which would be a great place to hike.

In discussing the numerous wild flowers coming into bloom just now, she wanted us to be sure to be aware of Putchki. No, this is not a Russian composer or poet, but a plant with a very nasty disposition. Variously called Wild Celery, Wild Parsnip or Cow Parsnip, it is an invasive weed that can grow up to 5 to 7 feet tall. If contact is made, thorough washing is required to prevent problems. The sap reacts with direct sunlight to produce a photosensitive reaction after as little as 10 minutes in the sun. It produces first, second, and third degree chemical burns on the skin affected. If blisters break, it will spread, and leaves an ugly dark red to blackish scar which is slow to fade.

A story is told about a young fisherman who was exposed, failed to wash, and a few days later developed such severe burns that he had to be medivaced out for medical treatment. He returned with bad scarring and it took him a long time to re-gain the use of his hands. Who would know such a mild-mannered appearing green plant could do such awful things! Sounds much worse that poison oak or poison ivy!

The picture above is a plant just getting started, and of course it hasn't bloomed yet. These plants are everywhere--right outside the church door one is growing up through a little nested spruce shrub. At the parsonage they are right outside the door. This picture was taken about 20 feet from the parsonage back door, and there are several plants visible in the area.

The wildflower book advises that quite a few of the plants in this area are poisonous--but this one seems to trump them all.

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