ORRIN MORRIS: Fragrant virgin's bower can trigger allergies, cause dermatitis

Virgin's Bower Clematis virginiana 

Virgin's Bower Clematis virginiana 

What will the new year hold for you and me? We don't know, but hope is vital to our daily activity. We hope for improvement in our health, our income and our security. We hope to maintain strong family ties, enduring friendships, and stable communities.The New Testament writer Paul, in First Corinthians 13, concluded "now abideth faith, hope and love: but the greatest of these is love" (v. 13). Faith, hope, and love are interdependent. The true attitude of love always reflects in tangible actions.

The concept Jesus taught us when instructing us "to love our neighbor as ourselves" is of divine dimensions. We are to relate generously, putting the well being of those who are the objects of our love above our personal desires and pleasure.

To love includes making an effort to meet their needs and providing security, spiritual growth, self esteem and emotional maturity. On the other hand, much of what our culture means by love is self-gratification, lust and shallow manipulation.

The new year will be truly a new year as we put feet and hands to our words of love. May the spirit of Christmas that magnifies God's gift of love be the motivating force that breathes new life into our world.

The wildflower for this week blooms in the summer but the name seems appropriate to feature this season of Jesus' birth.VIRGIN'S BOWERClematis virginianaThis wildflower is a climbing vine in the buttercup family. It is a native perennial that loves to climb on fences, or intertwine in shrubs up to about 10 feet high. The vines do not have tendrils like grapes, but the vine wraps itself around objects for support.The 1-inch flowers pictured above are males. The female flowers are less decorative until pollinated, when they look like the frayed ends of a ball of yarn. Each vine is either male or female.

Virgin's bower needs to keep its "feet wet," that is, if you want to find this midsummer wonder, check out moist ditches along our roadsides or around creek banks. This beautiful wild white clematis is a little hard to find compared to honeysuckle. Diligence is required to find virgin's bower during the blooming season: July, August and September.

The blooms are very fragrant and can cause problems for people who are allergic to airborne irritants. Also, people with sensitive skin often get dermatitis from handling the plant.

Nevertheless, herbalists use a mixture of leaves and blooms to relieve severe headaches, according to John Lust on "The Herb Book."

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. Notecards are available of the wildflowers published in the Citizen. His email is odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com or call him at 770-929-3697.