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PlantFiles: Gas Plant, Burning Bush
Dictamnus albus

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Family: Rutaceae (roo-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Dictamnus (dik-TAM-nus) (Info)
Species: albus (AL-bus) (Info)

Synonym:Dictamnus fraxinella
Synonym:Dictamnus caucasicus
Synonym:Dictamnus fraxinellus var. caucasicus

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

45 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Perennials

Height:
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Spacing:
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Pink
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer

Foliage:
Herbaceous

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 14 photos.
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Profile:

11 positives
6 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive joerip On Aug 14, 2014, joerip from Indianapolis, IN wrote:

I am on year three of this plant and it has been very easy to maintain. Beautiful pink flowers appear in spring that then give way to interesting seed pods in the summer/fall. However, just recently (early August) I noticed new growth starting at the base of the seed pods. This new growth has leaves that do not resemble the foliage of the rest of the plant. Has anyone ever seen anything like this?

Positive donnahanson On Jun 11, 2013, donnahanson from Pullman, WA wrote:

This plant likes full sun but hates to be crowded by other plants or being transplanted. Find a good home for it before you plant it.

Neutral Cauleen On Aug 9, 2012, Cauleen from Peterborough Ontario
Canada wrote:

About 4 weeks ago, on a viciously hot day, a huge flowering plant was falling over with its heavy, beautiful flower spikes. My daughter wrapped her arms around the plant, holding it while I tied it upright.... Within a couple of days, she developed what looked like random, linear burns that blistered on both her arms. After 4 weeks, the reddened welts still show some scarring.

We thought it was from the Stinging Nettle or Queen Annes Lace, both of which grew beside this plant - both are common weeds in most gardens and both are known to cause rashes or irritations on some folks. However, the burns did not look like those of either plant.

With diligent research we discovered that this stunning plant is called Gas Plant (Dictamnus albus). Although it takes some time to establish, Gas Plant is showy with waxy green leaves and spikes of small orchid like flowers in either pink or white, it shares some rather discomfiting qualities with other rash causing plants.

This rash, known as phytophotodermatitis was caused by a reaction of this (phyto) plants toxic chemicals -furocoumarins - with UV rays (photo) from the sun causing rash-like burns (dermatitis). Furanocoumarins are toxic chemicals that some plants produce to protect or defend themselves from insects and mammals. These toxins do not affect everyone, but if the concentration of the chemicals is high enough, and the conditions are right (hot sun - mid to late summer and moisture on the skin from swimming or perspiration) they can cause some extremely uncomfortable symptoms.

The lesions, or burns may blister and often develop into pigmentation that may last into the next summer.

This plant also gives off a gas that some say is methane and on a still summer eve, it can be briefly lit. The flame at the base of the stem of flowers, will ascend the stem but will not burn the flowers.

Here are two links for videos of the plant being lit - both in daylight and at night.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8yDWkwu5aI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQTZyS7BKV8&feature=related

In spite of its nasty qualities, the Gas Plant gives a stunning display with seed pods that are star-shaped and smell like oranges. It is this oil that contains the toxins. Once established, Gas Plant does not like to be moved and should be planted among others that have a permanent home, such as roses. It is a magnificent plant, and if you know its serious side and respect that, it will give your garden many years of pleasure - some say it will grow for decades with little care.

Positive immike On May 22, 2012, immike from Easton, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Plant loves the sun...try lighting a match at the base of the blooms after sunset and watch the gas ignite...very cool!

Positive crewdog On May 21, 2012, crewdog from Marcus Hook, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is a well behaved plant. It lasts forever. I planted one in 1995 and it has come back every year. By mid spring it is covered in light pink veined white flowers. After they have passed the foliage stays dark green and looks like an evergreen shrub. It is true that the flowers / pods do flash burn. ( my video posted here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_YsCmFw9_8 )The volatile oils smell of lemons. I strongly recommend it as an anchor in a perennial garden. Never had an issue with allergic reactions.

Positive BettyDahlstedt On Jul 16, 2011, BettyDahlstedt from Norrtlje
Sweden wrote:

We are growing this plant in Sweden, on a tiny island north of Stockholm. We have about ten plants in a row, alternating the two colors. I cut the stems after the flowers fade and use them as in house decoration all winter. I would love to make new plants from seeds but have never succeeded. Is there a trick to it?

Positive cpaacct On Sep 24, 2010, cpaacct from Dracut, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I planted 4 of these, all in different sections of my yard. The only one that did not make it was planted in the driest section. Of the 3 that made it, after 2 years, one bloomed beautifully. The other two are growing nicely and I am hoping that next spring they will bloom also. I just picked up a very small plant today at a 4H fair. I think I'll plant it near the first blooming one. This area is part-sun and is watered by my irrigation system 3 days a week.

Positive Cordeledawg On Jan 13, 2008, Cordeledawg from Cordele, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I just purchased seeds for this plant and was reading the interesting description of this plant. It can live 100 years! I'll see how long it takes me to kill it.

Positive sadona On Jun 28, 2007, sadona from Indianola, IA wrote:

Here in central Ia this plant has grown well. It does take a while to get established but once it is you'll get many positive comments. I have had a reaction to the plant with red burn marks on my legs but am not absolutly positive it was from this plant. After reading what another had to say I'm thinking it is. Plant still worth it!

Neutral licky On Jul 18, 2006, licky from NEEPAWA
Canada wrote:

I am writing from Manitoba Canada. We have extreme weather here, anywhere from 40 below in winter to 35+ above (c). Lots of snow in winter and hot and dry weather in summer is not uncommon. I have grown this plant now for several years and it is one of my favorite spring bloomers. It is very showy and I love the smell. Unfortunately I found out the hard way about the potential danger of growing it in my garden. Over the past several weeks I have been suffering from what my doctor thought might be shingles, then an allergic reaction to a plant and then just not knowing what it was. The sores were almost healed and then I got several more. My legs are covered with sores that look like burns. What finally got me investigating was two burn-like marks - that looked like a five leaf/petal flower. I was in my garden the other day and realized that they were exactly the same size as the seed heads on the gas plant. After doing some research on the internet I now realize that I have a "chemical like burn" from this plant. I still love the plant but am not sure what I will do. My legs are a mess and I understand that there is not much one can do for chemical type burns to relieve the pain. BE CAREFUL.

Neutral pokerboy On Jan 26, 2005, pokerboy from Canberra
Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:

A most unusual plant that are low maintainance and establish slowly. Dislikes soggy soil. Likes full sun and doesn't mind a lightly shaded position. Flowers are white and appear in late Spring to early Summer. The seed capules also provide interest in late Summer and early Autumn. This plant is also known as Dittany. This is quite a hardy plant. pokerboy.

Positive infra2000 On May 27, 2004, infra2000 from Grandview, WA wrote:

A beautiful plant currently in bloom in my yard in Grandview, Washington. We took a start to my daughter in Everett, Washington and it is also currently blooming nicely. Her neighbors all want a start. So, in Washington State, the plant will grow both in the deseret climate of Eastern Washington and in the wet climate of Western Washington.

Positive Dizzydog On May 15, 2004, Dizzydog from Ellsworth, KS wrote:

I love this plant!! Once established it is carefree and well mannered. It gets bigger and better every year but does not spread invasively. I have grown it in two different locations in Kansas. Soils in both places were well into the 7.0+ ph range. With shade it has held up to heat, wind, dry conditions, and -20 below cold. I would rate this plant right up with peonies. It's growth habit, size, and bloom time are very similar. Oh yes I have tried igniting it. On a dead still hot day the seed pods will briefly flare with a blue flame that is not hot enough to damage the plant. Hard to find. Well worth the effort.

Positive liverliver On Jun 29, 2003, liverliver wrote:

This has been a delight to me. A friend told me about gas plant several years ago and I ordered it by mail. I was lucky to have one of the plants adapt to its environment and it is now about 5 or 6 years old. The blooms are nice, fragrant and it is a very neat grower in my perenial garden. This year I am going to mature some of the seeds and attempt to grow it from seed. I have the rubra and I am hoping to locate seeds for the alba variety. I have tried the "lighter by the bloom" trick and it does indeed have a little spurt of flame as a result of the gas it emits. This also is a nice cut flower and adds fragrance to the arrangement.

Neutral gardendragon On Aug 14, 2001, gardendragon from Ladysmith, BC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Pruning: Flowers are self-cleaning. It is best to leave the seedheads, which form interesting star-shapes, to add interest in the garden through the summer and often into winter. Cut plants down in the spring. If any pruning is done when the plants are not dormant, care should be taken because the flowers and foilage can cause a dermatital reaction (skin irritation) in some individuals.
Long lived, tough plant that requires little care. Plant in fertile, humus rich, preferably alkaline soil that does not get soggy, in sun or light shade. Plants take some time (2-3 years) to become established. Plants are very slow growing. Usually no staking is required. Division is not recommended as success rate is low.

Neutral lantana On Jan 4, 2001, lantana from (Zone 7a) wrote:

Grows in Heat Zones 8-1.

Neutral jody On Nov 4, 2000, jody from MD &, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:

This is the only species in this genus. Best cultivated in full sun and rich well drained soil. It resents being disturbed once establised. Grows to 3' tall and 2 1/2' wide. Flowers are starshaped white, or pink. Blossoms in early summer. Oil evarporates from the leaves and it is said that on warm still nights you can light a match next to it and it will have a burst of flames, quickly and not harming the plant itself. (I have never tried this!) Hardy zones 3-9

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Venice, California
Kiowa, Colorado
Mackinaw, Illinois
Pekin, Illinois
Rockford, Illinois
Indianapolis, Indiana (2 reports)
West Lafayette, Indiana
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Indianola, Iowa
Ellsworth, Kansas
Prospect, Kentucky
Oxford, Maryland
Dracut, Massachusetts
Battle Creek, Michigan
Clarkston, Michigan
Kalkaska, Michigan
Saginaw, Michigan
Chaska, Minnesota
Little Falls, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Kansas City, Missouri
Beatrice, Nebraska
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Schenectady, New York
Fargo, North Dakota
Jamestown, North Dakota
Easton, Pennsylvania
Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania
Pennsburg, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Salt Lake City, Utah
Brattleboro, Vermont
Westminster, Vermont
Moseley, Virginia
Port Townsend, Washington
Pullman, Washington
Vancouver, Washington
Genoa City, Wisconsin



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