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(Rose family)


2000 species in 100 genera are of cosmopolitan distribution.

[Summary yet to be added]

Adenostoma fasciculatum Hook. & Arn.
Chamise, Chemise, Greasewood

In a study of Plants and Animals of the Santa Barbara Backcountry it was noted that "[the plant's] dense growth makes a natural barrier to hiking in the chaparral. It sometimes forms almost pure stands called a chamissal. It's easier to force your way through chamise than manzanita or ceanothus, but the persistent dry flowers and seed husks mix with your sweat and get down your shirt and become very irritating."

Citing an earlier publication, Bouttemy et al. (2014) noted that the plant has been used by California Indians in the treatment of skin conditions, adding that in the past, whale oil, bear grease, eel oil, and similar oils were used to prepare a chamise balm for the skin. Using a balm made from an olive oil infusion of the plant and beeswax, these authors recruited several patients previously diagnosed with eczema, seborrhea, psoriasis, or Adams disease [NOT Stokes-Adams disease = aplasia cutis congenita, a rare congenital condition characterised by localized areas of missing skin typically occurring on the top of the head] in a trial lasting 7 days applying the balm twice daily in addition to any treatments they had been prescribed by their doctors. The patients were also instructed to find a less irritating soap. All patients reported some benefit. However, no controls were used so no conclusions can be reached as to the efficacy or otherwise of the chamise balm.

The plant should not be confused with Larrea tridentata (DC.) Coville (fam. Zygophyllaceae), an unrelated plant also known as greasewood.

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Adenostoma sparsifolium Torr.
Red Shank

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Agrimonia eupatoria L.
[syns Agrimonia canescens Dumort., Agrimonia officinalis Lam.]
Agrimony, Beggars' Ticks, Church Steeples, Sticklewort, Gewöhnlicher Odermennig

The fruit is covered with hooks hence the first colloquial name. A decoction of the root and leaf is used as a blistering agent in Africa (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962). The plant was incriminated in Oppenheim's meadow dermatitis (O'Donovan 1942) but has, at the most, only slight photosensitising activity (Van Dijk & Berrens 1964, Van Dijk 1964) suggesting that irritation rather than photodermatitis can result from contact.

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Agrimonia pilosa Ledeb.
Hairy Agrimony

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Alchemilla vulgaris L.
[syn. Alchemilla acutiloba Opiz]
Lady's Mantle, Lion's Foot, Spitzlappiger Frauenmantel

Both Wren (1975) and Flück & Jaspersen-Schib (1976) refer to the external use of a preparation of this plant in folk medicine as a vulnerary.

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Argentina anserina (L.) Rydb.
[syn. Potentilla anserina L.]
Silverweed, Wild Tansy

Wren (1975), referring to Potentilla anserina, noted that the herb boiled in vinegar with honey and alum has been used in folk medicine as a gargle for sore mouths and ulcerated gums, and to fasten loose teeth. If the herb is steeped in strong white wine vinegar, the resulting solution has been used externally to remove freckles, spots and pimples from the face. Also referring to Potentilla anserina, Flück & Jaspersen-Schib (1976) and Stuart (1979) noted that a decoction of the plant has been applied to wounds.

Cotoneaster microphyllus Wall. ex Lindl.
Little-Leaf Cotoneaster, Rockspray Cotoneaster, Small-Leaved Cotoneaster, Cotonéaster à Petite Feuille, Kleinblättrige Zwergmispel

Cooper (1902), cited by White (1903), described three cases of acute dermatitis of the hands, wrists, face, and thighs in gardeners who had clipped extensive Cotoneaster microphylla [sic] hedges. He noted that the leaves of the plant were thickly covered with filiform white hairs with a sharply pointed free extremity. These, he believed, were responsible [in part] for the dermatitis. The eruptions, which had an erythematous and urticarial appearance, resolved after 10–14 days. Intense irritation was the worst feature of these cases. The head gardener later reported that further slight cases occurred in spite of the men wearing gloves and keeping their sleeves turned down.

Prosser White (1934) seemingly referred to this report by Cooper but the reference he provided to Cooper's article was, unfortunately, incorrect. Where he noted that Prosser White referred to Cooper's report, Touton (1932) provided the German common name Zwergmispel for Cotoneaster microphylla [sic]. Zwergmispel translates to English as "dwarf medlar". This is significant because later, Genner & Bonnevie (1938) cited Touton (1932) as the source for their assertion that the "dwarf medlar" has been reported as a plant whose leaves have the ability to cause eczema. This confusion has then been further compounded by Mitchell & Rook (1979) who assumed that the "dwarf medlar" to which Genner & Bonnevie (1938) referred was, botanically, Mespilus germanica, the medlar tree, the accepted name of which is now Crataegus germanica (L.) Kuntze. And a potential source of yet more confusion is the fact that the common name dwarf medlar (and false medlar) has long been used for Chamaemespilus alpina (Mill.) K.R.Robertson & J.B.Phipps (syns Mespilus chamaemespilus L., Pyrus chamaemespilus (L.) Ehrh., Sorbus chamaemespilus (L.) Crantz).

Crataegus L.
[syns Mespilus L., Oxyacantha Medik.]
Hawthorn, Thorn

This is a genus of over 200 species of shrubs and trees native to temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere and to parts of Central America, and introduced elsewhere as ornamentals. Thorns are a characteristic feature of all species (Mabberley 2017, Ufimov & Dickinson 2020).

Crataegus gracilior J.B.Phipps
[syns Crataegus pubescens Steud., Mespilus pubescens Kunth]
Mexican Hawthorn, Thorn Apple, Manzanilla, Manzanita

Crataegus pubescens forms a large bush or small tree armed with long thorns (Dahlgren & Standley 1944).

Under nomenclatural rules, Crataegus pubescens Steud. is an illegitimate name over Crataegus pubescens C.Presl (now regarded as a synonym of Crataegus laciniata Ucria, a West Mediterranean species) and has been misapplied to the closely related and similarly thorny Crataegus mexicana Moc. & Sessé ex DC. also known as the Mexican Hawthorn.

Crataegus monogyna Jacq.
[syns Crataegus brevispina Kunze, Crataegus oxyacantha auct., Mespilus monogyna (Jacq.).All., Oxyacantha monogyna (Jacq.) M.Roem., etc.]
Common Hawthorn, Maythorn, One-Seed Hawthorn, White Thorn

There is some confusion in the literature regarding the differentiation of this species from Crataegus laevigata (Poir.) DC., which is also known as the white thorn or Midland hawthorn, and to which the name Crataegus oxyacantha has been misapplied.

This shrub, which occurs abundantly in British hedgerows, bears sharp thorns up to 1.5 cm in length. Hawthorn thorns are particularly toxic to the eye. Corneal scratches led to loss of useful vision in 88 cases in 132 such accidents in Ireland (Smith 1940, Duke-Elder & MacFaul 1972b). The thorns are less injurious than those of Prunus spinosa L. [see below].

Citing earlier literature, Duke-Elder & MacFaul (1972b) noted that the hairs from the fruit of the hawthorn can produce conjunctivitis nodosa resembling severe trachoma. These authors were most probably referring to rose hips (Rosa L. spp., fam. Rosaceae), not haws.

Cydonia oblonga Mill.
[syns Cydonia vulgaris Pers., Pyrus cydonia L.]

A mucilage surrounding the seeds and used in pharmaceutical preparations is considered to be a known allergen and is therefore removed from certain brand-name cosmetics (Anon 1973).

A female cannery-worker developed severe hand eczema. Angelica was at first suspected to be the cause but a patch test to wet quince hair (tomentum) which she cleaned from the fruits produced a positive reaction; dry quince tomentum produced no reaction. A patch test to zinc chlorate used in the vats also produced a positive reaction (Stauffer 1931).

Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim.
[syn. Spiraea ulmaria L.]
Meadowsweet, Mead Wort

The plant is a source of salicylaldehyde from which salicylic acid and in turn aspirin were/was originally synthesised. The word aspirin was constructed as follows: a for acetyl, spir for Spirsäure [= salicylic acid] in turn named from the genus Spiraea, and in as a popular suffix for drugs of those times (Mueller & Scheidt 1994).

Spiraea or possibly Astilbe (Spirea) were noted as available in a commercial extract for patch-testing (McCord 1962). There do not appear to be any reports of dermatitis from the plant.

Fragaria × ananassa (Duchesne ex Weston) Duchesne ex Rozier
[syns Fragaria chiloensis var. ananassa Duchesne ex Weston, etc.]

A gardener developed eczema from contact with strawberries and from eating the fruit (Gougerot et al. 1931). A confectionery factory worker (and one of 102 controls) showed a positive patch test reaction to a natural strawberry flavouring (Hegyi 1971).

Geum L.

40 species are found in northern and southern temperate regions and in the Arctic. Members of this genus have hooked fruits which attach themselves to animals (Howes 1974).

Geum aleppicum Jacq.
[syns Geum sachalinense H.Lév., Geum strictum Aiton]
Aleppo Avens, Yellow Avens

The crude drug Gei Herba (lan bu zheng; 蓝布正) of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia 2015 is prepared from dried whole Geum aleppicum or Geum japonicum var. chinense F.Bolle. Its pharmacopoeial quality is determined on the basis of its gallic acid content but it also contains numerous other phenolic compounds including gallic aldehyde, eugenol, chlorogenic acid, salicylic acid, and vanillin (Li et al. 2006, Cheng et al. 2011, Duan et al. 2015). Positive patch tests have been observed to gallic acid in a patient sensitised to propyl gallate in a leave-on cosmetic product (Hemmer et al. 1996).

[Gallic acid]

Geum Aleppicum Extract [INCI; of uncertain composition (see Schmidt 2017)], is a recognised cosmetic product ingredient purported to have skin conditioning properties (Standing Committee on Cosmetic Products 2019, CosIng 2023/4).

Geum iranicum Khat.

Shahani et al. (2011) noted that a poultice prepared from a decoction of the whole plant mixed with wheat flour is used in Iran as a folk remedy for frostbite. Their investigation of the volatile oil obtained by hydrodistillation of the root found that it comprised 83.9% eugenol. See also Geum urbanum L. below.

Geum japonicum Thunb.
[syn. Geum sieboldii Scheutz]
Asian Herb Bennet

The roots of this species contain a glycoside named gein, from which eugenol and the disaccharide sugar vicianose are released on hydrolysis (Takahashi & Fujita 1955, Yean et al. 2012). See also Geum urbanum L. below.

Geum kokanicum Regel & Schmalh.
[syns Geum persicum Bornm. ex Bolle, Orthurus kokanicus (Regel & Schmalh. ex Regel) Juz.]

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Geum macrophyllum Willd.
[syns Geum fauriei H.Lév., Geum japonicum var. fauriei Kudô, Geum sachalinense (Koidz.) Makino]
Big-Leaf Avens, Large-Leaved Avens, Japanische Nelkenwurz

Vollmann & Schultze (1995) reported that the volatile oil they obtained from the roots of Geum macrophyllum comprised 91.8% eugenol; and that the volatile oil obtained from the roots of Geum fauriei comprised 88.3% eugenol. See also Geum urbanum L. below.

Geum rivale L.
[syn. Geum nutans Crantz]
Chocolate Root, Indian Chocolate, Nodding Avens, Purple Avens, Water Avens, Benoîte des Ruisseaux Benoîte Pourpre, Benoîte Aquatique, Bach-Nelkenwurz

Geum Rivale Extract [INCI; CAS RN 289-601-9; of uncertain composition (see Schmidt 2017)]a, is a recognised cosmetic product ingredient purported to have skin conditioning and skin protecting properties (Standing Committee on Cosmetic Products 2019, CosIng 2023/4).

Geum urbanum L.
[syns Geum rivale subsp. urbanum (L.) Á.Löve & D.Löve, Geum roylei Wall. ex F.Bolle, Geum sordidum Salisb., Geum umbrosum Dumort., etc.]
Bennet's Root, Clove Root, Colewort, Herb Bennet, Saint Benedict's Herb, Wood Avens, Echte Nelkenwurz

The roots of the plant provide the crude drug Gei Urbani Rhizoma et Radix, otherwise known as Caryophyllatae Rhizoma et Radix or Wood Avens Rhizome; the aerial parts provide Gei Urbani Herba, otherwise known as Caryophyllatae Herba or Wood Avens Herb. Flück & Jaspersen-Schib (1976) noted that a preparation of the dried rhizome or herb has been used in folk medicine as an application to wounds. In Romania and other Eastern European, preparations of the root and rhizome are used externally on infected wounds, ulcerations, urticaria, and dermatitis, for gingivitis, gingivorrhagia, dental abscess, and for hair care (Menković et al. 2011, Gilca et al. 2018).

The roots contain a glycoside named gein, from which eugenol and the disaccharide sugar vicianose are released on hydrolysis (Chaudhury & Robertson 1949, Pšenák et al. 1970, Pšenák et al. 1972). When quite dry the rhizome is nearly inodorous, but in the recent state has an odour like that of cloves (Remington et al. 1918). A volatile oil obtained from the roots by hydrodistillation has been reported to comprise about 70% eugenol (Vollmann & Schultze 1995, Owczarek et al. 2013). It resembles clove oil obtained from Syzygium aromaticum Merr. & L.M.Perry, fam. Myrtaceae.

[Gein, Eugenol, Vicianose]

Eugenol has local anaesthetic properties (Tsuchiya 2017) and is a recognised weak contact allergen (Opdyke 1975, Frosch et al. 1995, Svedman et al. 2012).

Geum Urbanum Extract & Geum Urbanum Root Extract [INCI; CAS RN 84649-91-2; of uncertain composition (see Schmidt 2017)]a, are recognised cosmetic product ingredients purported to have skin protecting and skin conditioning properties (Standing Committee on Cosmetic Products 2019, CosIng 2023/4).

Malus Mill.

According to Mabberley (2017), about 40 species are found in Northern Temperate regions. Members of this genus were at one time considered to belong to the genus Pyrus L.

Many are widely grown commercially and as ornamental trees and bushes for their fruit (apples, crab apples, cider apples).

Malus domestica (Suckow) Borkh.
[syns Malus communis Desf., Malus frutescens Medik., Malus pumila Mill., Malus sieversii (Ledeb.) M.Roem., Pyrus dioica Moench, Pyrus malus L., Pyrus malus var. domestica Suckow, etc.]
Apple, Domesticated Apple, Orchard Apple, Sweet Apple, Pommier Commun, Kultur-Apfel

The domesticated apple has most often been referred to in the literature as Malus communis, as Malus domestica (or Malus × domestica), or as Malus pumila. Whilst Malus communis would be the correct name to use under botanical nomenclatural naming rules, the most commonly used name has been Malus domestica, an illegitimate name under the naming rules. Following a proposal made by Qian et al. (2010) to conserve the name Malus domestica (with or without designation as a nothotaxon = a hybrid), which was approved in 2017, this is now the correct name for the domesticated apple.

The domesticated apple is understood to have originated from the wild apple [originally identified as Malus sieversii (Ledeb.) M.Roem.] in the Tian Shan Mountains in Central Asia, passing through a natural process of open pollination and unconscious selection over thousands of years, which has involved crosses with crab apples such as Malus baccata Borkh. in Siberia, Malus orientalis Uglitz. in the Caucasus, and Malus sylvestris Mill. in Europe as the apple was dispersed westwards along trade routes. In recent times, changes / improvements to the apple have continued to occur through crosses, back-crosses, and conscious selection at the hands of plant breeders (Cornille et al. 2014). Molecular phylogenetic studies have demonstrated that the Asiatic Malus × asiatica Nakai (pro sp.), Malus baccata Borkh., Malus × micromalus Makino (pro sp.), Malus orientalis Uglitzk., Malus prunifolia (Willd.) Borkh., and Malus sieversii (Ledeb.) M.Roem., and the European Malus sylvestris Mill., are the species taxonomically closest to Malus domestica. Accordingly, they are considered to have contributed, to differing extents, to the domesticated apple gene pool (Velasco et al. 2010).

Apples are self-incompatible (Velasco et al. 2010, Cornille et al. 2014), so require other apples, crab-apples, etc. to be growing in the vicinity in order for fruit to set and seeds to form. As a consequence, they do not normally come true from seed. And the progeny, if allowed to disperse naturally, develop into a "hybrid swarm". Indeed, other than floral timing, there appears to be no obvious barrier to hybridisation either between species of Malus or between species in different genera of the sub-tribe Malinae. The Malinae comprises perhaps 11 genera and about 1000 species. Unsurprisingly, the taxonomy of apple cultivars is fraught with problems (Juniper & Mabberley 2019).

There are thought to be about 2,500 distinct apple cultivars in the British Isles, and about 20,000 named cultivars in the world, most of which are maintained in national collections as genetic resources for breeding (Juniper & Mabberley 2019). Discarded apple cores have given rise to further innumerable unnamed varieties that can be found growing adventitiously alongside roads, paths, etc. However, Bolhaar et al. (2005) recorded that the six most common cultivars on the market are Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Red Delicious, Gala, Elstar, and Granny Smith, which have 79% of the market share; and Gross et al. (2014) recorded that in the United States, 15 cultivars made up 90% of commercial apple production in 2008.

Whilst the pedigrees of most apple cultivars may never be fully elucidated, genomic tools are providing insights into relatedness among individual cultivars. Thus, Salvi et al. (2014) have reported the reconstruction of pedigree networks involving 65 cultivars sourced from an apple tree collection in Trento, Italy.

An early case report of an allergic reaction of the mucous membranes of the mouth following ingestion of apples in a 23-year old male with severe seasonal hay fever and asthma was provided by Tuft & Blumstein (1942). Positive skin [scratch ?] test reactions to the fresh juice of an apple and a peach were observed. Belin (1972) later alluded to the frequent association of birch (Betula L. spp., fam. Betulaceae) pollen allergy with allergy to apples, but perhaps the first explicit record of this association was that of Juhlin-Dannfelt (1948) who noted that patients sensitive to catkin-bearing trees suffered inconveniences such as itching and burning in the mouth and throat and, in exceptional cases, conjunctivitis and rhinitis, adding that these patients also experience similar though generally less pronounced symptoms after eating raw apples. It is possible that the positive patch test to apple peel observed by Hazen (1944) in a 60-year old female with dermatitis of the eyelids was related to a birch pollen allergy.

In a study of immediate reactions to fruits and vegetables, Hannuksela & Lahti (1977) found that in a group of 230 patients with various atopic disorders who were sensitive to birch pollen, 59 (26%) also reacted to apple in scratch chamber tests. But in a group of 158 similar patients who were not sensitive to birch pollen, only 3 (2%) reacted to apple. In a series consisting of 1120 atopic and 380 non-atopic patients, scratch tests were positive to apple in 58 (7%) of 879 atopic patients tested but in 0 of 232 non-atopic patients (Niinimäki & Hannuksela 1981). Clinically, of 152 patients with birch pollen allergy, 52 had complaints from apples. Itching and tingling of the lips and/or of the mouth with or without slight oedema of the lips/tongue were recorded in 48 cases; hoarseness and irritation of the throat (5 cases), slight or moderate colic in the upper abdomen (4 cases), itchy dermatitis of the palms after handling apples (4 cases), and rhinitis/conjunctival irritation (2 cases) were also reported (Hannuksela & Lahti 1977). These authors further noted that apple juice lost its allergenicity in 2 days both at +4°C and at room temperature, and that apples lost their capacity to produce positive reactions very quickly when stored at −16°C. Cooking destroyed the allergenic properties of all the fruits and vegetables tested. Prick tests reported by Anderson & Løwenstein (1978) in a group of 116 atopic and 53 non-atopic patients produced 8 positive reactions with a commercially available freeze-dried extract of apple and 28 positive reactions with the fresh apple peel. All but one of these apple-allergic patients also gave positive prick test reactions to birch pollen and/or hazelnut.

Sensitivity to apple (and also other fruits and vegetables) in patients sensitive to birch pollen (and also other pollens) has been termed "oral allergy syndrome" [OAS] or "pollen-food allergy syndrome" [PFAS] (Inoue et al. 1996, Inomata et al. 2007, Price et al. 2015). Carlson & Coop (2019) noted that the term OAS was first proposed in 1987 to describe the symptoms of allergies to various foods in aeroallergen-allergic patients, but that in 1995 the term PFAS was introduced to better characterise the pathogenesis and avoid confusion as to possible symptoms. Although mainly investigated as a condition seen in adult patients with seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, PFAS is also seen in children (Dreborg & Foucard 1983, Kitabayashi et al. 2013, Mastrorilli et al. 2019).

It is now recognised that up to 2% of the northern and central European population is allergic to apple and that apple allergy in these parts of Europe is mainly encountered among patients with birch pollen allergy. This concordance is explained by cross-reactivity of IgE antibodies between birch pollen and apple allergens. The main cross-reactive birch pollen allergen is Bet v 1; its homologue in apple is Mal d 1, which is homogeneously present in the peel and the pulp of the fruit. Mal d 1 is a proteolysis-sensitive allergen and causes predominantly mild and limited symptoms in the oral cavity (oral allergy syndrome). Furthermore, Mal d 1 does not survive most processing steps, like cooking or juice making, and thus only consumption of fresh apples leads to symptoms. Usually patients with apple allergy are also sensitised and (variably) allergic to other fruits, vegetables, and nuts on the basis of the same cross-reactive antibodies. In southern Europe apple allergy is less common and not related to birch pollen allergy. The clinical presentation of apple allergy is, however, more severe. This has been explained by the nature of the major apple allergen in the southern patients with apple allergy, the nonspecific lipid transfer protein (LTP) designated Mal d 3. LTP has been shown to be especially abundant in the peel of fruits (Bolhaar et al. 2005).

Outside of Europe, plant sources other than birch may be involved in PFAS. Thus, in an investigation of twenty three patients with Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica D.Don, fam. Cupressaceae) pollinosis and oral allergy syndrome, 20 had specific IgE antibodies for fruits (melon, apple, peach, and kiwi fruit). Thirteen of these 20 patients showed specific IgE antibodies for apple. And 8 out of 9 patients with oral allergy syndrome to apples showed specific IgE antibodies for apple. Eleven of 16 subjects with specific IgE antibodies for birch pollen, did not suffer symptoms during the birch and alder pollen season (Ishida et al. 2000).

Vlieg-Boerstra et al. (2010) carried out prick-to-prick skin tests with 68 apple cultivars and also single-blind oral food challenges with Golden Delicious as a reference standard cultivar and with three cultivars (Elise, Santana and Pink Lady) producing the largest number of negative skin prick test reactions. They found that in freshly picked apples, Elise yielded significantly milder responses in oral food challenge tests than other cultivars. Also, Santana showed milder responses in freshly picked apples, although less than Elise. However, a nonallergenic cultivar could not be identified. These findings apply to patients with oral allergy to fresh apple because of primary sensitization to birch pollen, but not for patients with systemic reactions to apple and sensitised to Mal d 3. In a study of 24 cultivars chosen according to their age of origin or release to the market, Vegro et al. (2016) observed that most of the less allergenic varieties were found among those deriving from selection processes carried out prior to the so-called "green revolution" (i.e. prior to circa 1950). From an investigation involving 52 patients with birch pollen allergy and pollen-related food allergy to apples being subjected to a prick-to-prick tests with 23 apple cultivars and also to oral provocation tests with 3 cultivars, Nothegger et al. (2020) ranked all 23 cultivars according to reactivity in skin prick tests. Five red-fleshed apples displayed the lowest reactivity. Their findings were used to guide allergen-specific immunotherapy for patients with birch pollen allergy involving daily apple consumption starting with a low reactivity red-fleshed cultivar (Red Moon) before changing to a cultivar with mid-range reactivity (Pink Lady) and finally to a high reactivity cultivar (Golden Delicious) in a protocol that built tolerance to both apple and birch pollen.

Occupational dermatitis from apples has rarely been reported, and has mostly been attributable to chemicals applied post-harvesting. Thus, apple and pear sorters and packers have been reported to develop "left arm dermatitis" from a fungicide (Stop Mold™, containing the sodium salt of 2-chloro-6-phenylphenol) sprayed onto these fruits to control mould in storage (Scott 1949, Schwartz et al. 1957). Women employed in cleaning apples and pears (Pyrus communis L.) developed dermatitis with cracked skin, rhagadiform eczema of the hands, and coccal paronychia (Szegő 1966). Sodium bisulfite used as an antioxidant to prevent discoloration of fruit and vegetables caused allergic contact dermatitis in a salad-maker; a patch test with sodium bisulfite 10% aqueous produced a positive reaction, negative in controls (Epstein 1970). Ethoxyquin used to prevent "apple scald" during storage produced dermatitis in apple-packers (Wood and Fulton 1972). In a questionnaire survey of kitchen workers (n = 1592 occupational; n = 1915 non-occupational), current hand eczema was found to be significantly associated with increased risk of current diagnosed food allergy in occupational kitchen workers. However, symptoms of allergy on contact with apple were less common than on ingestion of apple, the converse being found for other foods, suggesting that apple is not an important contact sensitiser for occupational kitchen workers (Minami et al. 2018).

The apple and several other members of the Rosaceae are listed by Blair (1979) as plants upon which browntail moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea L., fam. Erebidae) caterpillars feed. Chinery (1976) noted that both the caterpillars and the fully developed adults of these and other so-called tussock moths are generally very hairy, the hairs are often being barbed and irritating, this making both the moths and the caterpillars unpleasant to handle. The urticating activity of the hairs is the result of a mechanical effect acting together with a chemical effect arising from the injection of a toxin, which has been characterised as a complex mixture containing phospholipase A and two or three serine proteases with kallikrein-like activity (Bleumink et al. 1982, Villas-Boas et al. 2016). Blair (1979) provided an overview of the clinical features in 36 patients of the rash produced by the missile-like urticating hairs shed by the caterpillars. Envenomation by the caterpillars is termed erucism; envenomation by the adult moths is termed lepidopterism. The clinical symptoms in affected persons can be described as a pseudophytodermatitis where the dermatitis occurs as a consequence of an encounter with the particular plant hosting the caterpillars, or possibly with a fomite such as the fur of a cat. However, it should also be noted that there may be ocular, nasal, or respiratory involvement.

The apple tree and its fruit is the source of a number of recognised cosmetic product ingredients [of uncertain composition (see Schmidt 2017)] the botanical sources of which being ascribed variously to Pyrus malus, Malus domestica, and Malus pumila. In addition to the individual cosmetic product ingredients to which the INCI names listed below refer, apple-derived material is also included in numerous multicomponent preparations, concoctions, and fermentation products intended for use in cosmetic product formulations (Standing Committee on Cosmetic Products 2019, CosIng 2023/4).

Hydrolyzed Pyrus Malus Pectin Extract
Malus Domestica Callus Culture Extract
Malus Domestica Callus Extract
Malus Domestica Fruit Cell Culture Extract
Malus Domestica Fruit Extract
Malus Domestica Fruit Water 89957-48-2
Pyrus Malus Bark Extract
Pyrus Malus Callus Powder
Pyrus Malus Carpel Powder
Pyrus Malus Fiber 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Flower Extract 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Flower Water
Pyrus Malus Fruit 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Fruit Extract 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Fruit Water 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Juice 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Leaf Extract 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Pectin Extract 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Peel Cera 225234-37-7 / 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Peel Extract 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Peel Wax
Pyrus Malus Pomace Extract
Pyrus Malus Pulp Extract 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Root Bark Powder 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Root Extract 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Seed Extract 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Seed Oil 85251-63-4
Pyrus Malus Seed Powder
Pyrus Malus Stem Extract 85251-63-4

Photinia glabra (Thunb.) Maxim.
[syn. Crataegus glabra Thunb.]
Japanese Photinia

The pickled fruits, which resemble cherries in appearance, if eaten in excess will make the mouth and tongue rough and crack open (Stuart 1911).

Potentilla erecta (L.) Raeusch.
[syns Potentilla tormentilla (Crantz) Neck., Tormentilla erecta L.]
Bloodroot, Common Tormentil, Septfoil

A lotion prepared from the roots of this plant has been used in folk medicine as a wash for ulcers and old sores; the fluid extract also acts as a styptic when applied to cuts and wounds (Wren 1975). Flück & Jaspersen-Schib (1976) and Stuart (1979) refer to the traditional use of an infusion prepared from the dried rhizome as a lotion for inflammation of the mouth, throat or vagina; and also to the use of a decoction as a soothing application for minor burns and sunburn. Stuart (1979) also states that a lotion prepared from the plant is used externally to treat haemorrhoids and frostbite, and that the plant promotes epithelization but cautions that prolonged contact with the skin should be avoided as it may cause scarring.

According to Stuart (1979), the root yields a red dye that appears to be identical with a substance known as ratanhia-red present in the root bark of Peruvian rhatany (Krameria triandra Ruiz & Pav., fam. Krameriaceae). Interestingly, both tormentil and Peruvian rhatany also seem to share the same traditional use as an astringent mouthwash for fixing loose teeth. Indeed, Stuart (1979) records that tormentil was at one time considered a less costly alternative to Peruvian rhatany.

Potentilla reptans L.
[syn. Tormentilla reptans L.]
Five-Leaf Grass, Creeping Cinquefoil, Fivefinger

A preparation of the root has been used in folk medicine as a gargle for sore mouths and ulcerated gums, and to fasten loose teeth (Wren 1975). Flück & Jaspersen-Schib (1976) also refers to this use, noting in addition that a decoction of the plant has been used to bathe wounds.

Prinsepia utilis Royle
[syn. Cycnia spinosa Griff.]
Himalayan Cherry Prinsepia

This and the other three species in the genus Prinsepia Royle, which occur naturally from India to north-eastern China, form thorny deciduous shrubs (Mabberley 2017). They are occasionally found in cultivation as ornamentals (Hunt 1968/70).

Prinsepia Utilis Seed Extract & Prinsepia Utilis Seed Oil [INCI; of uncertain composition (see Schmidt 2017)] are recognised cosmetic product ingredients purported to have astringent, skin conditioning, and emollient properties (Standing Committee on Cosmetic Products 2019, CosIng 2023/4).

Prunus amygdalus Batsch
[syns Amygdalus amygdalus (Batsch) Frye & Rigg, Amygdalus communis Mill., Amygdalus dulcis Mill., Prunus dulcis (Mill.) D.A.Webb]
Almond, Sweet Almond, Mandel

This species yields oil of bitter almond. Perfumes, colognes and toilet water containing the oil can cause dermatitis in hypersensitive individuals (Tulipan 1938). Greenberg and Lester (1954) and Klarmann (1958) also list oil of bitter almond as capable of producing dermatitis.

The seeds are the source of oil of sweet almond (Jordan almond) (Budavari 1996). Almond oil was considered to be an allergen for atopic individuals (Coca et al. 1931). Oil of almond and a major constituent of the oil, benzaldehyde, are considered to be known allergens and have therefore been removed from certain brand-name cosmetics (Anon 1973). A report of contact sensitivity to almond flour but not to any other kind of flour was noted by Prosser White (1934), probably from Molesworth (1930).

Prunus avium (L.) L.
[syns Cerasus avium (L.) Moench, Prunus cerasus var. avium L., etc.]
Bird Cherry, Süßkirsche, Vogelkirsche

Hausen (1970) cites Brezina (1912) for an injurious effect of the wood.

Prunus cerasus L.
[syns Cerasus fruticosa Pall., Cerasus vulgaris Mill., etc.]
Cherry, Dwarf Cherry, Cerisier Acide, Griottier Acide

In 289 women employed in making cherry preserves, cases of dermatitis, conjunctivitis, and respiratory disorders were found to be due to exposure to sulfur dioxide fumes. Skin lesions were constantly present in those affected (Fimiani et al. 1963).

Prunus domestica L.
[syn. Prunus spinosa subsp. domestica (L.) H.Groves & J.Groves]
European Plum, Plum, Pflaume

Sorters, shellers and packers of prunellas and sloes (Prunus spinosa) can be attacked by a mites that infest the dried fruits (Fuhs 1923, cited by Prosser White 1934, Rasch, cited by O'Donovan 1921). Moulds on prunes (the dried fruits of the plum) can cause dermatitis (Prosser White 1934). Spitzer (1927) reported dermatitis from prunes. Belisario (1948) referred to similar findings.

Prunus laurocerasus L.
[syns Cerasus laurocerasus (L.) Dum.Cours., Lauro-cerasus officinalis M.Roem.]
Cherry Laurel, Kirschlorbeerbaum

Massage to the skin with cherry laurel oil produced dermatitis (Rayer 1835).

Prunus persica (L.) Batsch
[syns Amygdalus persica L., Persica domestica Risso, Persica vulgaris Mill.]
Peach, Pêche, Pfirsich

Peaches have often caused dermatitis both among those who pick them and because of the sharp fuzz on many varieties and among those who can them (Schwartz et al. 1957). The canners develop dermatitis from the juice of the peach which contains much sugar and is hygroscopic and irritating to the skin (Schwartz et al. 1957). The "fur" on the skin of peaches was considered to cause erythema and papules on the face, neck, forearms and elbow flexures of workers in the fruit canning industry (Foreign Letter 1929).

Positive Type I hypersensitivity skin reactions to juice of fresh peaches and melons (Cucumis, fam. Cucurbitaceae) were reported by Tuft and Blumstein (1942). Dry fruit extracts produced negative reactions.

The fuzz of the peach acts as a mechanical irritant; later, true sensitisation of the skin may appear (Weber 1949).

Prunus spinosa L.
Blackthorn, Sloe, Schlehdorn, Schwarzdorn

This species forms a very spiny shrub (Polunin 1969) with a long-standing reputation for inflicting thorn injuries that take longer than expected to heal: "The thorns have something of a poisonous nature in the autumn" (Withering 1787); "From some effects which I have repeatedly observed to follow the prick of the thorns, I have reason to believe there is something poisonous in them …" (Withering 1801). Wimmer (1926) published a drawing of the spine-tipped twigs.

Buhr (1960) reported that thorn injuries of the hands from this plant in 10 patients, most of whom were agricultural workers, required nearly four times longer outpatient treatment than did thorn injuries from hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna Jacq.) or from gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa L., fam. Grossulariaceae).

Uteau & Bouget (1928) held that the fly-infested putrefying bodies of birds and small animals spitted on the thorns by shrikes accounted for the inflammation that occurs after blackthorn pricks. These authors also noted that they had seen two cases of thorn-induced tetanus. However, Buhr (1960) recovered no unusual bacteria or other pathogens either from his patients or from cultures of blackthorns obtained from hedges. But, he did note also that one of his 10 patients developed tetanus of moderate severity. Other case reports include a horseman who unknowingly sustained a deeply penetrating thorn injury whilst leaping a hedge and who became increasingly debilitated until the thorn was eventually discovered 6 years later and removed (Wardell 1851); a 9-year-old schoolboy in whom the broken tip of a thorn produced a profuse foreign body reaction (Latham 1960); and a 61-year-old housewife who developed dyspnoea and a generalised vesicular rash, infected in places, after scratching her arm on a blackthorn (Cashmore 1960). It would appear that the tip of the rough long brittle thorn of the blackthorn snaps off more readily in the skin than does the short needle-sharp point of hawthorn.

Dermatitis from sloes is noted under Prunus domestica [see above].

Pseudocydonia sinensis (Dum.Cours.) C.K.Schneid.
[syns Chaenomeles sinensis (Dum.Cours.) Koehne, Cydonia sinensis (Dum.Cours.) Thouin, Cydonia vulgaris Pavol., Pyrus chinensis Spreng.]
Chinese Quince

Referring to a large yellow quince known locally in China as ming zha [榠楂] or mu li [木李], Stuart (1911) noted that the fruit of Pyrus chinenses [sic] or Cydonia vulgaris, soaked in oil and used as a bandoline, "cures" [? darkens] grey or red hair.

Pyracantha M.Roem.

This is a genus of about 10 species of shrubs or small trees usually with thorny branches. Three species occur naturally in southeastern Europe and seven in Asia (Gu & Spongberg 2003).

McCord (1962) noted the commercial availability of an oleoresin extract of [an unspecified species of] Pyracantha for patch testing. There appear to be no reports of dermatitis from members of this genus.

Pyrus communis L.
[syns Malus communis (L.) Poir., Pyrus balansae Decne., Pyrus domestica (Borkh.) Medik., etc.]
Common Pear, European Pear

Dermatitis from pears is noted above under Malus domestica (Suckow) Borkh. In addition, women working with pears developed a painful oedematous swelling with hyperkeratosis, fissuring and immobility of the flexed finger (Szegő 1966).

Quillaja saponaria Molina
[syn. Quillaja poeppigii Walp.]
Chilean Soap Bark Tree, Murillo's Bark, Soap Tree, Soapbark Tree, Chilenischer Seifenbaum

The powdered bark yields quillaja saponin which lathers with water; it is sternutatory when dispersed in the air (Budavari 1996). A splash of a solution of Quillaja saponin into the eye of a chemist caused irritation (Bakker 1940). The bark contains also contains calcium oxalate crystals.

Rosa L.

250 species are found in northern temperate regions and on tropical mountains.

In 1645, Sir Kenelme Digby wrote: " … Lady Hennage (who was of the bed-chamber to the late Queen Elizabeth) … had her cheeke blistered by laying a rose upon it whiles shee was asleepe, to try if her antipathy against that flower were so great as she used to pretend" (Macalpine & Hunter 1956). Malten (1972) thinks this is the "very oldest report on contact investigations and incidentally carried out with psychological precautions".

Harrison (1906) included roses — especially in America — in a list of plants etc., which may cause dermatitis. Contact dermatitis from rose or positive patch test reactions to the plant were reported by Niedziella (1930), Curtis (1960), and Hjorth (1968). Dorsey (1962) received a report of dermatitis caused by tea roses, but provided no detail.

A woman, aged 66 years, showed a positive patch test to the petal of a red rose; patch tests to a green leaf from the red rose, and to the petal and green leaf from a white rose were negative. The patient was also contact sensitive to Iris (Hjorth 1961).

Contact dermatitis was observed by van Ketel (1974) in four individuals, two culturists of roses and two florists especially handling roses (Rosa sorina). The dermatitis was traced to an organophosphorus anti-mildew agent Plondrel (O,O-diethyl-phthalimido phosphothioate). This material is very stable and leaves a residue in the leaves and petals. Five days after spraying with Plondrel 9.2 ppm were found in the leaves, 0.45 ppm in the petals, by gas liquid chromatography. In two patients he could not exclude contact sensitivity to the rose itself. He classified contact dermatitis from the plants as arising from:

  1. products of the flowers only;
  2. from pesticides only;
  3. simultaneously from plant products and added pesticides; and
  4. from other materials too (polyvalent allergy).

Sulfur, used on roses, produced dermatitis in a gardener (Wilkinson 1975). Malathion, an insecticide often used on roses, can cause contact dermatitis (Milby and Epstein 1964). Contact dermatitis from pesticides was reported by Sicherer (1965) and reviewed by Cronin and Wilkinson (1973).

A rose thorn that penetrated the palm produced an osteolytic lesion simulating a bone tumour (Maylahn 1952).

Kedes et al. (1964) reported a case of sporotrichosis from the thorn of a rose bush. Its victim was a gardener who often fell asleep at work after drinking wine.

In 1565, Botallus reported an individual who, after smelling roses, would have a violent attack of sneezing, rhinorrhoea and headache (Biederman 1937).

The pollen is a rare cause of hayfever (Wodehouse 1971). The scent of roses causes some persons to sneeze.

Rosa × damascena Herrm.
[syns Rosa belgica Mill., Rosa gallica var. damascena Voss]
Damask Rose, Portland Rose, Rose of Castile, Rosier de Damas, Damaszener Rose

Widely named also as Rosa × damascena Mill., the Damask rose is now considered to be a hybrid of triparental origin: DNA analyses point to the presumed original maternal parent being Rosa moschata Herrm., this having been pollinated with Rosa gallica L. pollen. The resultant hybrid ovule was then seemingly pollinated with pollen from Rosa fedschenkoana Regel [now considered by some authorities to be a synonym of Rosa webbiana Wall. ex Royle] to produce the common ancestor of the four oldest Damask varieties, namely the so-called summer Damasks ‘Kazanlik’ and ‘York and Lancaster’, and the so-called autumn Damasks ‘Quatre Saisons’ and ‘Quatre Saison Blanc Mousseux’. The variety ‘Kazanlik’ has been most abundantly planted for rose attar [also called attar or otto of rose, essence of rose, or rose oil] production (Iwata et al. 2000).

Oil of Rose derived from this and / or other Rosa species / varieties has been reported to cause dermatitis in hypersensitive individuals (Zundel 1936, Flandin et al. 1937, Tulipan 1938, Tzanck et al. 1938, 1939). Geraniol is contained in Oil of Rose. 2/15 patients contact sensitive to balsam of Peru (from Myroxylon balsamum Harms, fam. Leguminosae) showed a positive patch test reaction to geraniol (Hjorth 1961).

Rosa majalis Herrm.
[syns Rosa cinnamomea (L.) L., Rosa foecundissima Münchh., Rosa fraxinifolia Borkh.]
Cinnamon Rose, May Rose, Zimt-Rose

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Rubus L.

250 species are of cosmopolitan distribution.

Some, including Rubus fruticosus L. (blackberry), are capable of producing mechanical injury by their thorns.

Rubus spectabilis Pursh
[syn. Parmena spectabilis (Pursh) Greene]

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Sanguisorba officinalis L.
Burnet Bloodwort, Garden Burnet, Great Burnet, Salad Burnet

According to Stuart (1979), the root decoction is an excellent haemostatic and can be used on all cuts and wounds. Wren (1975) also refers to this property.

The common names burnet bloodwort, garden burnet, and salad burnet may also refer to Sanguisorba minor Scop. (syn. Poterium sanguisorba L.).

Sarcopoterium spinosum (L.) Spach
[syns Pimpinella spinosa Gaertn., Poterium spinosum L., Sanguisorba spinosa (L.) Bertol.]
Thorny Burnet, Prickly Burnet, Spiny Burnet

Although the genus Sarcopoterium Spach is considered to be monotypic, some authorities would place the taxon on the genus Poterium L. The plant, which grows naturally in Italy and the eastern Mediterranean, forms a low rounded shrub with stiff much-interwoven spiny branches (Polunin 1969). Mabberley (2017), referring to Poterium spinosum L., noted that the plant is very common near Jerusalem and was possibly the species from which the crown of thorns of Jesus Christ was produced — see also Paliurus spina-christi Mill., Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Desf., and Euphorbia milii Des Moul.

Sorbus aucuparia L.
Mountain Ash, Quickbeam, Rowan, Eberesche, Vogelbeere

Sorbic acid [CAS RN 110-44-1; E200]a, often in the form of its sodium, potassium, or calcium salts [E201, E202, & E203 respectively], is used as an antimicrobial preservative in foods, cosmetic products, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The commercially available product is produced synthetically, but was first isolated from the fruits (rowan berries) of Sorbus aucuparia, from which its name is derived. However, whilst sorbic acid in cosmetic product formulations, pharmaceuticals, etc. is known to cause adverse skin or eye reactions on contact [see below], rowan berries are not likely to be the cause of sorbic acid-induced reactions. This is because, sorbic acid is not present as free sorbic acid in the berries, but in bound form as a glucoside named parasorboside. Under extraction conditions that promote hydrolysis, parasorboside releases parasorbic acid, a hexenolide otherwise known as sorbic oil (Kuhn & Jerchel 1943, Haynes 1955, Tschesche et al. 1971). Sorbic oil, in turn, under alkaline conditions, produces sorbic acid (Handschack 1963). Mildly basic conditions produce cis-2,trans-4 [(2Z,4E)] sorbic acid whilst strongly basic conditions promote stereomutation to trans-2,trans-4 [(2E,4E)] sorbic acid (see Crombie & Firth 1968). Sorbic acid cannot be found in the juice of either unripe or ripe rowan berries and is not formed by spontaneous isomerisation of parasorbic acid (Diemar & Franzen 1959).

[Parasorboside, ParasorbicAcid, SorbicAcid]

Sorbic acid may cause slight skin irritation. 0.5% of 200 eczematous patients showed positive patch test reactions to sorbic acid (Schorr 1971). 0.6% of 736 eczematous patients showed positive patch test reactions to sorbic acid (Klaschka and Beiersdorff 1965). 0.3% of 1,489 patients with skin diseases showed positive patch test reactions to sorbic acid (Hjorth and Trolle-Lassen 1963). At that time (1961) sorbic acid was not used as a preservative in dermatological creams in Denmark. The only other exposure they were able to trace was plants or berries known to contain sorbic acid. Guinea pigs could be sensitised to sorbic acid (Klaschka and Beiersdorff 1965).

Sorbic acid in an industrial accident damaged the corneal epithelium, but the lesion healed rapidly within 48 hours following debridement / denudation (McLaughlin 1946, Duke-Elder & MacFaul 1972b).


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Richard J. Schmidt

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