Pine pollen not the cause of spring allergies

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Pine pollen may be coating sidewalks and cars with yellow dust, but it is not to blame for making people sneeze.

People suffer from pollen allergies, but pine pollen doesn’t contribute to it. The chemical composition of pine pollen appears to make it less allergenic than other types.

Because pine pollen is heavy, it tends to fall straight down, and does not scatter easily in the wind; therefore, it rarely reaches human noses.

Among North American plants, weeds are the most prolific producers of pollen, with ragweed most often the culprit in making people sneeze and eyes water.

Broadleaf trees such as oaks, ash, elm, hickory, pecan and box elder also contribute to the pool of allergy inducing pollen.

These plants manufacture small, light, dry pollen granules that are custom-made for wind transport. Samples of ragweed pollen have been collected 400 miles out at sea and two miles high in the air.

Because airborne pollen is carried for long distances, it does little good to rid an area of an offending plant-the pollen can drift in from many miles away.

In addition, most allergenic pollen comes from plants that produce it in huge quantities. A single ragweed plant can generate a million grains of pollen a day.

The blooming, showy, flowers such as daffodils, crocus and forsythia that accompany the onset of spring signal the beginning of pollen season, which lasts several weeks.

Pollen from these showy flowers is large, heavy, waxy pollen grains that are not carried by wind but by insects such as butterflies and bees, rarely reaching human noses and often are also not the culprit of pollen allergies.

The amount of pollen varies widely within local areas and among geographic regions. Weather conditions have a major impact on pollen season.

A rainy spring or late spring frost that kills flowers often reduces the amount of pollen in the atmosphere. The amount of pollen in the atmosphere tends to be highest early in the morning on warm, dry, breezy days and lowest during chilly, wet periods.

Short of staying indoors when the pollen count is high—and even that may not help—there is no easy way to evade wind-borne pollen.

contact the Brunswick County Master Gardeners program at 253-2610.