Pollen and Allergy Season: The Price We Pay for Living in a Lush Landscape

It’s that time of year again, that time when your car changes color like a chameleon in order to mimic the surrounding landscape. Anything that stands still long enough will become coated with a light green to yellow dust. What is this dust you might ask? What you are seeing is pollen, a sure sign that spring has arrived and allergy season is here! The pollen that can be seen is from pine trees and is not a major contributor to allergies, but the invisible pollen from oak trees and other plants can wreak havoc on sinuses. And while you may be cursing the trees for causing your eyes to water and coating your car, it’s important to remember that plants need pollen in order to reproduce.

Pollen disseminating from a pine tree. Picture courtesy of http://supermanherbs.com/megadose-pine-pollen/

Pollen disseminating from a pine tree anther. Picture courtesy of http://supermanherbs.com/megadose-pine-pollen/

Pollen is disseminated from blooming trees and plants. The process of pollination develops new plant seeds. Pollen is dry and light, enabling it to float through the wind and travel several miles. Plants that depend on wind for dispersal have to produce massive amounts of pollen since only a small amount will actually result in seed production. Plants pollinated by insects don’t have to produce as much pollen because of the efficiency of the insects in distributing the pollen. Changes in the weather directly influence the amount of pollen and how it will affect allergy sufferers. Rain dampens pollen and reduces its ability to flow through the air. A freeze can also slow down a tree’s rate of producing pollen. Windy and warm weather can increase pollen amounts.

A Leon County allergy and asthma specialist stated that roughly 40 percent of the population suffers from pollen allergies. The best thing you can do if you are part of this 40 percent is to reduce your exposure to pollen. Here are a few ways you can keep your allergies at bay:

  • Dry clothes in an automatic dryer rather than hanging them outside to avoid pollen collecting on clothing and being carried indoors.
  • Consider limiting outdoor activities during the pollen season (Florida trees often release pollen from January to June).
  • Stay inside during peak pollen times (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Restrict outdoor activities during days with high winds and low humidity.
  • Shower after spending time outdoors to remove pollen from hair and skin.
  • Use air filters and clean regularly, or run an air conditioner and change the air filter frequently.
  • Wear a dust mask when mowing the lawn, gardening, or raking leaves.

If you would like to know what trees are producing pollen in your area at certain times of the year you can visit this website http://www.pollenlibrary.com/State/Florida/. As always, feel free to contact your local Extension Office for more information.

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