Today’s one word prompt is prickle. It resonates with me at this time of the gardening season. So often, when I go out to harvest, I return with both vegetables and a prickly rash on my arms and hands. Yesterday, I was itchy for about an hour after picking 3 summer squash. Squash and beans seem to be the culprits. Looking into this a little on the internet, I find I am not the only one who gets a rash from squash plants: http://forums2.gardenweb.com/discussions/1465591/anyone-else-get-bad-skin-rash-from-zukes-or-squash-plants. This thread found on a gardening site showed me I am not alone.
It turns out that there are lots of little hairs on the leaves and stems of many plants, often a defense against pests. I might stay away from things that gave me a rash or sores in my mouth if I tried to eat them. Beans, squash and tomatoes are among the common garden vegetables that use this defense. Similarly, nettles use this approach, with the additional defense of injecting a little toxin with their spines, so that almost everyone get a severely itchy and painful rash after an encounter. Hence the term “to nettle” (irritate) someone. Its irritating, alright.
I took a walk out into my garden after reading this, and sure enough, in this morning’s light, it was fairly easy to see the little hairs on the squash and tomato plants.
Now I know where my prickles come from. I like the produce better than the prickles. A reminder that I may be well-served by long sleeves and gloves!