I learned 2 new things today about gas plants. I was removing the seed heads from my white gas plant (Dictaminis albus) and saw something that looked like bird droppings. When I touched it it moved - it was a caterpillar. I cut off the stems that had these and moved them to another part of my garden. When I went searching on line to see what kind of caterpillar it turned out that these are the larvae of the giant swallowtail butterfly. So I went and found the stems ( took a while!) and returned them to the plant. They can feast away - what a reward at the end - such a lovely butterfly.
When I was searching for this information on line, I inadvertently found a web site where I learned that gas plant causes phytophotodermatitis which I have had many times in the summer. This burn is associated with giant pigweed and wild parsley but I don't have these in my garden so it has always been a mystery to me - which plant in my garden has the chemical that causes the burn. Now I know. Don't trim your gas plants on sunny days or if you do wash exposed skin immediately. This is a very nasty burn. The sap chemical (I think it's called fumocourmarin) amplifies UV rays by 1000 times. The skin blisters, is extremely painful and the scarring takes months to fade. Be really careful with the lovely gas plant!
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