Flowers, Pollen and Allergies

Is that tree causing your allergies?  That pretty tree with the white flowers?  That pine tree covering your car in green film?  Nope. It’s the trees you don’t see that are getting you.

This is the height of allergy season. You can feel it in your sinuses and see it on your car windows. Huge amounts of pollen are flying through the air, seeking out female flowers with which to mate. There are many misconceptions about pollen, tree flowers and allergies.

In my experience, many people are confused about what trees cause allergies. The beautiful showy flowers of spring trees like black locust or flowering crab are not the cause of allergies. These flowers are designed to attract insects, hummingbirds and other pollinating animals. They do not toss their pollen into the air, but wait for animals to carry pollen from tree to tree.

It is the tree flowers we don’t notice that are the culprits. Oak, Osage-orange, hickory, and lots of other trees produce long male flowers called catkins that drop huge amounts of pollen into the air. You may not notice the flowers, but your respiratory system does.

Pine, spruce and other conifers don’t produce flowers, but they do toss huge amounts of pollen into the air. However, their pollen is so large that few people have problems with conifer allergies.

So, if you have to curse at a flower this spring, don’t pick on the pretty ones.

Showy flowers do not cause allergies
Showy flowers do not cause allergies