Does Angelica Atropurpurea Cause Rashes?
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: John Craw
Posted on: June 18, 2008

I’m the coordinator of the Simcoe County Master Gardeners and I have an inquiry that I don’t have the answer for. Does this plant cause a rash like poison ivy and is it considered a noxious weed? I grow the regular angelica and have had no problem in my garden.

As you know Angelica atropurpurea is a wild species similar to the European angelica (Angelica archangelica), the well known culinary and medicinal herb. It has a history of use like the European species although it is considered inferior because it is less aromatic. Both the medicinal and culinary properties derive from the aromatic content of the plant, so where there is a choice, the European species is the better one.

All members of the Angelica genus contain furocoumarins. When exposed to ultraviolet light these compounds can cause a type of skin rash called photodermititis. When the skin of a sensitive person is exposed to the plant’s sap and then is exposed to sunlight blisters develop in a few hours. Furocoumarins are present in varying levels in other plants of the same family as angelica, such as celery, carrots, parsnips and queen anne’s lace; but most do not have enough to cause rashes except in the most sensitive people. A few species, such as giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) which grows wild in our area, have high levels of furocoumarins and cause severe rashes in most people. Giant hogweed definitely is noxious and is listed on noxious plant lists. Angelica atropurpurea is not considered noxious, but those who find themselves sensitive to furocoumarins should avoid it.

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