Bear Claw - An Extremely Dangerous Plant
As mentioned above, the Rhoen is a natural sanctuary. Not everything here is completely harmless. Pictured is a plant known as Caucasian Bear Claw ( heracleum sphondylium ). This plant generates a photoactive contact poison. If you have to touch this plant with your bare skin, it could cause second degree burns.
Children are extremely suseptible to getting burned, and may require hospital treatment. Because the plant is large (often about 1-½ metres 4 feet tall) you usually cannot miss it. It is especially most toxic in the mid-day sun, because the poison on the plant is a so-called photo-sensative toxin. That means the sunnier it is, the more dangerous the plant is. Pay attention to how it looks, and avoid it like the plague. Even adults will get scarred from contact with this plant.
If you get burned see a doctor immediately!
- Family Travel
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
Ticks Carry the FSME Virus in the Rhoen
Ticks are an under-estimated danger. You might want to take a precaution and get vaccinated against the FSME virus before you do a mountain bike tour through the Bavarian Rhoen, just as a precaution. Scientists used to believe that ticks fall on people from treetops, but they recently discovered that they crawl un-detected on their host when they walk through tall grass. If you avoid coming into contact with tall grass, you will avoid the ticks. But if you do get bite by a tick, DO NOT remove the tick using the old Injun Joe methods (e.g. cigarette butt, hot needle, smothering in sun tan lotion, ice spray). Go to the next town doctor or pharmacy and have them remove it for you professionally. This way, it can be avoided that the tick releases the dangerous virus it carries. As a pre-caution, you might want to bring along a pair of special tick tweezers you can get in any German pharmacy.
- Adventure Travel
Rare and Poisonous!
A brief warning for all hiking enthusiasts: There are rare and poisonous snakes in this region. The biosphere Rhön is one of the last refuges for the rare snake, that the Germans call the Kreuzotter (Black Adder) or Vipera berus Linnaeus . The snake resembles a rattle snake but has no rattle. It is on the list of endangered European species. The snake, fortunately for you, is extremely shy, but occassionally can be found sunning itself on remote mountain tops on warm rocks on sunny days. If you can resist the temptation of trying to catch one, and I am sure the snake will resist the temptation of trying to bite you!
Should you, despite this, have an unlucky encounter with this rare animal, you will need immediate medical attention. Although the bite of this snake is not usually lethal, it can cause severe pain and serious illness.