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Levisticum - Pastinaca

(Umbellifer or Carrot family)


Levisticum Hill

Three species native to south-western Asia are cultivated and naturalised in North America and Europe. Two species yielded linear furanocoumarins (Nielsen 1971).

Levisticum officinale W.D.J.Koch
[syns Hipposelinum levisticum Britton & Rose, Ligusticum levisticum L., Selinum levisticum E.H.L.Krause]
Lovage, Livèche, Maggikraut

The plant was used as a condiment and eaten like celery (Apium). A laboratory technician developed dermatitis of the wrist and elbow flexures after making extracts of lovage and cleaning out vats containing Oil of Lovage. Patch tests were positive to Lovage Concentrate, negative in eight controls (Calnan 1969). Oil of Lovage is used in perfumery (Greenberg and Lester 1954).

The plant name "Ligusticum officinale Koch" can be encountered in the literature in articles referring to lovage. This is of no botanical standing. The name Ligusticum officinale Kitag. (syn. Cnidium officinale Makino) has been published, but whether or not this refers to lovage remains unresolved, as is also the case with Angelica levisticum All., Levisticum vulgare Reichb., and Levisticum vulgare Hill, other possible synonyms.

Libanotis buchtormensis DC.
[syns Bubon buchtormensis Fisch., Libanotis cycloloba Gilli, Seseli buchtormense W.D.J.Koch, Seseli cyclolobum Pimenov & Sdobnina, Seseli giraldii Diels]

This species yields 5-methoxypsoralen and 8-methoxypsoralen (Nielsen 1970).

Ligusticum scoticum L.
[syns Angelica hultenii M.Hiroe, Angelica scotica Lam., Apium ternatum Schltdl. ex Schult.]
Scotch Lovage

The root is hot and disagreeable to the taste; it was sometimes chewed in Scotland as tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L., fam. Solanaceae).

The plant has been used as a pot-herb (French 1971).

Oenanthe L.

40 species are found in temperate Eurasia and on mountains. The whole genus is acrid (Bowie cited by Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

Oenanthe crocata L.


Oenanthe fistulosa L.


Oenanthe phellandrium Lam.
Water Fennel

These species are described as irritant (Pammel 1911). Oenanthe phellandrium is used in herbal medicine.

Oenanthe crocata L.
Hemlock Water Dropwort, Water Lovage, Yellow Water Dropwort

The crude drug, locally applied, "excoriates the skin" (Piffard 1881).

Oenanthe javanica DC. subsp. javanica H.Hara
[syns Dasyloma javanicum Miq., Oenanthe stolonifera DC., Phellandrium stoloniferum Roxb., Sium javanicum Blume]
Chinese Celery, Indian Pennywort, Japanese Parsley, Java Waterdropwort, Water Celery

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Opopanax chironium Koch

Gum Opopanax, used in perfumery, is the dried juice from the wounded stem of Opopanax chironium Koch. and/or Pastinaca opopanax L. Opopanax or sweet myrrh is also obtained from Commiphora (Furia & Bellanca 1971).

Six of eleven patients who were contact sensitive to balsam of Peru (from Myroxylon balsamum Harms, fam. Leguminosae) showed positive patch test reactions to opopanax (Hjorth 1961).

Pastinaca sativa L.
[syns Anethum pastinaca Wibel, Peucedanum pastinaca Baill., Peucedanum sativum Benth. & Hook.f.]

15 species of Pastinaca are native to temperate Eurasia. P. sativa is the parsnip, a biennial, often cultivated for its edible root. The plant has been cultivated in Europe since Roman times and was introduced to America during the 17th century.

According to Bailey (1971) Pastinaca sativa L. is the cultivated parsnip and Pastinaca sativa L. var. sylvestris DC. is the wild parsnip which is extensively naturalised in North America. According to Clapham et al. (1962) Pastinaca sativa L. is the wild parsnip which is native to Great Britain found at roadsides and in grassy waste places. In Scotland and Ireland, it is found only as an escape from cultivation. The plant is found in Europe except in the extreme North and in Portugal, and is found eastwards to the Caucasus. It has been introduced to North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. Somner and Jillson (1967) refer to the cultivated parsnip as P. sativa var. hortensis and to the wild parsnip as P. sativa var. pratensis. The wild variety reverts to the edible variety with appropriate horticulture and vice versa.

In Great Britain the wild variety is colloquially named heeltrot, hockweed, bird's nest, hart's eye and madnip (Klaber 1942). The wild parsnip can be identified in early summer by the clusters of yellow flowers arising from a main stalk on stems arranged like the spines of an everted umbrella (Somner and Jillson 1967). The plant which is established as a weed in fields, waste places and roadsides throughout the United States looks somewhat like the wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace (Daucus) but has yellow flowers (Hardin & Arena 1974).

Three Pastinaca species which were investigated yielded linear furanocoumarins (Nielsen 1971).

Dermatitis from parsnips was recognised at the end of the 19th century (White 1887, Jamieson 1897). The dermatitis can affect gardeners (Gruebel Lee 1946), market-gardeners (Lengyel & Palicska 1965), farmers (Edel 1916), factory-workers employed in processing parsnips (Dicker 1935, Strack 1945, Henry 1933) and troops in the field (McKinlay 1938) and soldiers who peeled the vegetable (Belisario 1952). In the case of soldiers the lesions have been mistaken for self-induced lesions or mustard-gas burns. Other reports have been contributed by Freche and Plissomeau (1908), Nestler (1912), Straton (1912), Maiden (1921), Cleland (1925), Hartmann and Briel (1927), Heye (1929), Hirschberger and Fuchs (1936), Whittle et al. (1946), Federico (1957), Stevanovic (1959), Andreichuk (1960), Binnie (1964), Young (1964), and Voborova et al. (1965).

Hurst (1942) reported Peucedanum sativum as a cause of dermatitis. In a feeding experiment, two ducks fed parsnip seed and placed in the sun developed dermatitis (Hurst 1942). Gardner & Bennetts (1956) include Peucedanum sativum L. in a list of plants known or suspected of causing dermatitis, probably from Hurst (1942).

The active spectral band for evoking phytophotodermatitis from the plant was found to be 320–360 nm (Jensen and Hansen 1939). Wetness of the skin on contact with the plant is important in the pathogenesis of the lesions and residual hyperpigmentation is characteristic (Somner and Jillson 1967). These authors noted that phytophotodermatitis from the plant was invariably misdiagnosed as poison ivy (Toxicodendron) dermatitis. Lying on plants in grass can cause meadow dermatitis (Charpy 1939). Both wild and cultivated parsnip can evoke phytophotodermatitis. It is possible that allergic contact dermatitis can also occur.

Parsnip was found to be not irritant by patch test (Starck 1945).

The plant yields 5-methoxypsoralen and 8-methoxypsoralen (Nielsen 1970).

Pastinaca sativa L. subsp. urens Čelak.
[syns Pastinaca umbrosa DC., Pastinaca urens Req. ex Gren. & Godr.]

The plant can evoke phytophotodermatitis (Van Dijk and Berrens 1964). During the spring and beginning of the summer, Pastinaca sylvestris Mill. and during the summer Pastinaca urens evoke phytophotodermatiis in France (Gougerot and Charteaud 1952). The plant yields 5-methoxypsoralen and 8-methoxypsoralen (Nielsen 1970).

Richard J. Schmidt

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