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UMBELLIFERAE — 4
Heracleum

(Umbellifer or Carrot family)

 



Heracleum L.
Cow Parsnip, Berce

70 species are found in north temperate regions and on tropical mountains.

Chemistry is recorded by Molho et al. (1971) and by Nielsen (1970). Of 29 species investigated, all were found to yield linear furanocoumarins.

The outer rind and the root of the cow parsnip (berce) contain an acrid sap sufficiently strong to inflame and ulcerate the skin (Chaumton 1815). Persons handling or weeding the plants develop papulo-vesicular or bullous dermatitis (Legraine and Barthe 1926). The roots and rind of certain Heracleum species contain an acrid irritant sap (Behl et al. 1966). Cases of dermatitis from the plants were reported by Imschenetzky (1928), Colomb et al. (1969), Sokolova (1968), Klepov (1960), Leonenko (1962), Krauskoff and Belek (1972). Camm et al. (1976) note the difficulties of botanical identification for phytochemical study, numerous synonyms for plant species and the absence of a botanical monograph of the genus.



Heracleum alpinum L.

This species yields furanocoumarins (Molho et al. 1971).



Heracleum antasiaticum Mandem.

This species yields 5-methoxypsoralen from the roots (Nielsen 1970).



Heracleum asperum M. Bieb.

This species yields 5-methoxypsoralen from the fruits (Nielsen 1970).



Heracleum candicans Wall. ex DC.
(syn. Tetrataenium candicans Manden.)

This species yields 5-methoxypsoralen from the fruits (Nielsen 1970).



Heracleum ceylanicum Garden ex C.B. Clarke

This species yields furanocoumarins (Molho et al. 1971).



Heracleum cyclocarpum C. Koch
(syn. Heracleum sphondylium L. ssp cyclocarpum P.H. Davis)

This species yields 5-methoxypsoralen from the roots (Nielsen 1970).



Heracleum flavescens Willd.

This species yields furanocoumarins (Molho et al. 1971).



Heracleum hypoleucum Vis.

This species yields 5-methoxypsoralen from the fruits (Nielsen 1970).



Heracleum lehmannianum Bunge

This species yields 5-methoxypsoralen from the fruits (Nielsen 1970).



Heracleum leucocarpum Aitch. & Hemsl.
(syn. Heracleum afghanicum Kitam.)

According to The Plant List (2013), Heracleum leucocarpum Aitch. & Hemsl. is an unresolved name, but some data suggest that it is synonymous with Tetrataenium leucocarpum (Aitch. & Hemsl.) Manden.

This species yields furanocoumarins (Molho et al. 1971).



Heracleum mantegazzianum Sommier & Levier
(syns Heracleum giganteum hort., Heracleum villosum hort.)
Giant Hogweed, Wild Parsnip, Wild Rhubarb

This species is a native of the Caucasus and has been introduced into horticulture. Dermatitis from the plant was reported by Miescher and Burckhardt (1937) who suspected the possibility of light sensitisation. Kuske (1938, 1940) elicited bullous reactions 48 to 72 hours after applying fresh plant juice to the skin and following this with 40 minutes exposure to sunlight. The subsequent English and German literature concerning this plant was reviewed by Drever and Hunter (1970) who reported 13 cases of dermatitis from Scotland. Additional reports were provided by Jones and Russell (1968), Smellie (1968), Kvicalova and Stava (1962), Camm et al. (1976).

Contact with the young shoots of a plant identified as Heracleum giganteum caused acute dermatitis of the hands and forearms of a gardener (Stowers 1897). Harrison (1906), perhaps referring to this earlier case, included Heracleum giganteum in a list of plants, etc., which may cause dermatitis. Straton (1912) reported that he had occasionally seen, in summer, contact dermatitis affecting the hands and arms of gardeners who had handled the cut stems of Heracleum giganteum, which was largely used in the arrangement of perennial borders. In the worst case, the patient had cut down about 200 plants and the hands and arms had become smeared with the sap. Wherever it touched, it produced a glow which was soon followed by intense itching and burning; then an erythemato-vesicular eruption appeared. However he said, unlike that produced by Toxicodendron, it never spread to other parts of the body but was limited to the areas actually touched by the sap. He further observed that the acridity of the sap of Heracleum, Angelica and similar plants varied with the season of the year and all skins were not equally susceptible to its action.

Hinterman (1962) reported dermatitis from the plant in a dog. A woman had phytophotodermatitis of the skin of the jaw-line from contact with her cat which had been playing with her garden specimen of the plant (Champion, R.H. 1974, pers. comm. to Camm et al. 1976).

The plant was reported to be running slightly wild in central Europe (Schulz and Spier 1951). Naturalisation and spread of the plant has occurred in the United Kingdom in the past sixty years (Drever and Hunter 1970).

The plant was introduced to Kew Gardens, England for ornamental purposes but has now become a frank weed, usually found near water. The plant can grow to nearly 4m during its growing season and has large hollow stems. Those affected are most often fishermen and bathers and children who use the hollow stems for a telescope or pea-shooter and for blowing noises as with a trumpet. The hands are usually affected and also the back of those who have been hit with the stem in children's play. Cutting of plants for the intended purpose of eradication may result in dispersal since the dried stems and flower heads readily float downstream to reach the lower reaches (Editorial 1970).

The botanical taxonomy of the plant is complex, in that two authored species and a "Kew species" are known (Molho et al. 1971). The Caucasian species has been divided into three species (Mandenova 1950). The plant yields 5-methoxypsoralen and 8-methoxypsoralen (Nielsen 1970). Chemovars i.e. biochemical varieties, within a species are reported (Molho et al. 1971). The essential oil from the plant contains chemicals (Jain 1969) which give rise to a notion that allergic contact dermatitis from the plant is a possibility.

Heracleum giganteum Fisch. yields 5-methoxypsoralen from the fruits (Nielsen 1970).



Heracleum maximum W. Bartram
(syns Heracleum dulce Fisch., Heracleum lanatum Michx., Heracleum lanatum Michx. var asiaticum Hara, Heracleum lanatum Michx. var nipponicum Hara, Heracleum nipponicum Kitag., Heracleum sphondylium L. var lanatum Dorn, Heracleum sphondylium L. var nipponicum H. Ohba, Pastinaca lanata Koso-Pol., Sphondylium lanatum Greene)
American Cow Parsnip, Common Cow Parsnip, Masterwort

The young leaf-stalks and young stems, before the expanding of the flowers, are eaten like stewed celery (Apium). The northern Indians of the United States ate the peeled stalks either raw or cooked (Fernald and Kincey 1943). The blossoms were steeped in oil and rubbed on the body to keep off flies and mosquitoes by North American Indians (Smith 1929). The plant is used for rubefacient purposes (Courchet 1882). The leaves are used as a counter-irritant and may produce vesication (Dispensatory 1884).

Efremov (1961) reported 357 cases of photodermatitis from Heracleum dulce. He noted a requirement for sunlight in evoking the dermatitis since inunction of the juice of the plant without exposure to sunlight was harmless.

Portions of the leaf and stem using the method of Daniels (1965) were phototoxic for Candida albicans (Camm et al. 1976). Extracts of the plant inhibit DNA repair in UV-irradiated cultured human fibroblasts (Stich et al. 1975).

The fruits and roots yield 5-methoxypsoralen and other furanocoumarins (Nielsen 1970, Molho et al. 1971).



Heracleum nepalense D. Don
(syns Heracleum nepalense D. Don var bivittatum C.B. Clarke, Tetrataenium nepalense Manden.)

According to (Behl et al. 1966), the roots and rind contain an acrid irritant sap. Nielsen (1970), citing earlier literature, noted the presence of bergapten in the fruits.



Heracleum olgae Regel & Schmalh.
(syns Platytaenia olgae Korovin, Tetrataenium olgae Manden.)

Citing earlier literature, Nielsen (1970) notes that the fruits have been reported to contain bergapten and sphondin.



Heracleum panaces L.

Referring to earlier literature, Nielsen (1970) noted that bergapten, sphondin, and pimpinellin have been reported to occur in the roots and/or fruits.

According to The Plant List (2013), the taxonomic status of this plant name remains unresolved. Heracleum panaces was published by five other authors, but it is not clear whether any or all of these authors were describing the same taxon.



Heracleum pastinacifolium C. Koch
(syn. Heracleum transcaucasicum Manden.)

Citing earlier literature referring to Heracleum transcaucasicum and Heracleum pastinacifolium as separate taxa, Nielsen (1970) noted that this species yields bergapten and sphondin from the fruits.



Heracleum persicum Desf. ex Fisch.

This species is listed as a source of phytophotodermatitis (Van Dijk and Berrens 1964).



Heracleum platytaenium Boiss.

Dincel et al. (2013) reported the presence of psoralen, bergapten, xanthotoxin, pimpinellin, sphondin and other furanocoumarins in the aerial parts of this plant.



Heracleum pubescens M. Bieb.

Nielsen (1970), citing earlier literature, noted that this species yields bergapten, sphondin, and pimpinellin from the fruits.



Heracleum pyrenaicum Lam.

This species yields furanocoumarins (Molho et al. 1971).



Heracleum sosnowskyi Manden.

Nielsen (1970), citing earlier literature, recorded that this species yields bergapten, xanthotoxin, angelicin, sphondin, and pimpinellin from the stalks and leaves, and/or fruits.



Heracleum sphondylium L.
(syns Heracleum australe Hartm., Heracleum laciniatum Desf.)
Bibernell, Cow Parsley, Eltrot, European Cow Parsnip, Hogweed, Heltrot

This species is reported to evoke phytophotodermatitis (Van Dijk and Berrens 1964, Pathak et al. 1962). Michon et al. (1956) reported purpuric dermatitis from the plant.

The phototoxic furanocoumarins bergapten, xanthotoxin, 5-methoxypsoralen, sphondin, and pimpinellin have been reported to occur in the roots and/or fruits (Nielsen 1970).



Heracleum sphondylium L. ssp montanum Briq.
(syns Heracleum dissectum Ledeb., Heracleum montanum Schleich. ex Gaudin, Heracleum setosum Lapeyr., Pastinaca dissecta Koso-Pol.)

Heracleum dissectum yields 5-methoxypsoralen from the roots (Nielsen 1970).

Some authorities consider Heracleum sphondylium L. ssp montanum Briq. to be a synonym of Heracleum maximum W. Bartram.



Heracleum sphondylium L. ssp sibiricum Simonk.
(syn. Heracleum sibiricum L.)
Siberian Cow Parsnip, Siberian Hogweed

The bark and roots of Heracleum sibiricum are corrosive and vesicant (Courchet 1882). Citing earlier literature also referring to Heracleum sibiricum, Nielsen (1970) noted that this taxon yields bergapten, sphondin, angelicin, and pimpinellin from the fruits and/or roots.



Heracleum sphondylium L. ssp transsilvanicum Brummitt
(syns Heracleum palmatum Baumg., Heracleum transsilvanicum Schur)

This species yields furanocoumarins (Molho et al. 1971).



Heracleum sprengelianum Wight & Arn.

This species yields furanocoumarins (Molho et al. 1971).



Heracleum stevenii Manden.
(syn. Heracleum villosum auct.)

Nielsen (1970), citing earlier literature, recorded that bergapten, sphondin, and pimpinellin have been reported to occur in the fruits.



Heracleum trachyloma Fisch. & C.A. Mey.

Nielsen (1970), referring to earlier literature, noted that bergapten, sphondin, and pimpinellin have been reported to occur in the fruits.



Heracleum villosum Fisch. ex Spreng.
(syns Barysoma villosum Bunge, Sphondylium villosum Hoffm.)

Nielsen (1970), citing earlier literature, recorded that the roots of "Heracleum villosa" yield xanthotoxin. However, the botanical identity of the plant material is open to question (see Heracleum mantegazzianum Sommier & Levier and Heracleum stevenii Manden. above).



Heracleum wilhelmsii Fisch. & Ave-Lall.

This species yields furanocoumarins (Molho et al. 1970).




Richard J. Schmidt [Valid HTML 4.01!]



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