|Service botanist Gina Glenne enters GPS coordinates as Duane Atwood heads to a survey spot. Photo Credit: USFWS
Leith Edgar, now in External Affairs in our Pacific Region, tells us about a cool discovery by one of our botanists.
“Look, but don’t touch the flowers,” is something Gina Glenne, a Service botanist, frequently reminds herself when working with certain native plants in Colorado.
Unfortunately for Glenne, the glandular hairs of some phacelia, a common flower genus of the western United States, give her an allergic reaction. The resulting rash for some people is more extreme than exposure to poison ivy or oak. In Glenne’s case, more than five years of handling phacelia species in Oregon, Nevada, Idaho and Colorado has resulted in heightened sensitivity to all species of phacelia, and she breaks out in a rash that’s worse than poison ivy and lasts longer.
So when Glenne observed an unusual plant growing in the midst of Penland, or Kremmling penstemon, during a 2009 phacelia taxonomy project, she kept her hands to herself.