In Search of Pollen
One of my favorite pollen excursions was when I went in search of mountain cedar trees in Northern Arkansas. Before I tell the story, let give you some insider information: Mountain cedar trees release pollen (pollinate) in December and January and are a big allergy/asthma/health problem in Southern Oklahoma, Dallas, and The Hill Country of Texas. The trees are in little pockets in Northern Arkansas but this is not well known and they aren’t considered much of a problem for allergy sufferers in that region because there are so few of them.
On this particular excursion, I had the sheer pleasure of checking some sites that were in the beautiful snow-dusted Ozarks. I was having a blast because it was winter and the plumes of pollen were hundreds of miles to the south of me. My sinuses were clear and it was my first time exploring the Ozarks.
Just Because it’s Cold, Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Suffer
As I drove about, eating my pine nuts and listening to FM radio (my Pontiac-issued tape player had broken by this time), I came upon a promising patch of trees. On close inspection, I discovered that they were indeed my mountain cedar trees and not the red herring known as the red cedar. I was overjoyed and collected the GPS coordinates. Then I began to sneeze. I had gotten too close to a male tree that was pollinating. The moral of this story is simple; most of the pollen released by a plant lands very close to that plant. You’ll get a lot more pollen exposure if you get close to the plant—this is common sense, but it’s also backed up by research. On my excursion in Northern Arkansas, I wouldn’t have suffered at all had I just stayed away from the male tree. But this concept is important even on days when all of the air around you is filled with pollen. Just because you are miserable, doesn’t mean that you can’t get more miserable—steer clear of the plants you are allergic to when they are pollinating. I’ll see what I can do to help you identify the plants that you should avoid and when you should avoid them.
Me smiling before I found the trees: