The asteraceae or compositae family, also known as the daisy or sunflower family, is made of about 20,000 plant species. Although most are herbs, there are some tree, vine and shrub species in the family as well. Compositae contact allergy is the name for allergic reactions caused by the compositae family. Sesquiterpene lactones are the allergens found in oleoresin fraction of the stem, leaf, flower and sometimes even the pollen. There are other allergies caused by the daisy family.
Ragweed (Ambrosia) is a group of 15 species of weed plants belonging to the compositae family. These annuals have rough hair stems and divided leaves. Most are native to North America but are also found in Eastern Europe. Copious pollen found in the common ragweed and the giant ragweed causes allergic rhinitis, commonly called hay fever. Common ragweed grows about 3- to 4-feet tall and is commonly seen growing throughout North America. Giant ragweed can reach 17 feet in height and is native from British Columbia to Quebec in Canada and some southern parts of the United States.
Dandelion (Taraxacum) is a perennial weed belonging to the genus Taraxacum of the Compositae family. It is native to Europe, but it has been naturalized worldwide. Dandelions are described by their naked flower stalk and basal rosette leaves. They contain the taraxinic acid (sesquiterpene lactone) allergen, which is the cause for the allergic contact dermatitis allergy. This occurs after coming in contact with dandelions while golfing, mowing the lawn or working with or near the plant.
Asthma and Other Allergies
Mugwort is native to North America, Asia and Europe. This shrubby bush is commonly found growing in wastelands and reaches up to 7 feet in height. The plant is known to cross react with just about all the other members of the compositae family, including sunflower, ragweed, dandelion and cabbage. Mugwort is known to cause trigger asthma, seasonal allergic rhinitis, pollinosis, upper and lower respiratory tract sensitization, contact dermatitis and urticaria.