What’s making you sneeze? Most likely, your hay fever is coming from some plant, but don’t blame the roses, rhododendrons or other beautiful flowers in bloom right now. Look to the green plants in the environment.
Grasses – and there are a lot of them – are the single most important group of plants that cause spring pollen allergies in Northern California, says the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Foundation of Northern California. It’s not just from lawns, but from wild grasses growing in pastures and along roadsides. (And, yes, hay would fit in this category, too.)
According to the AAIF, some pollens prompt more sneezing than others. Oaks, for example, have a very long pollinating season, often extending into May.
“Because of the high concentration of pollen in the spring, it is a very important allergen and can cause significant clinical hay fever and asthma in Northern California,” the AAIF reports.
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Walnuts and olives, which pollinate later than most other fruit and nut trees, are both highly allergenic, from late April through June. Just driving by a grove can cause reactions.
Birches, popular landscape trees in the Sacramento area, also are highly allergenic and produce copious amounts of pollen each spring.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology monitors testing stations throughout the nation – including one in Roseville – to compile its National Allergy Bureau Pollen and Mold Report.
That Roseville monitoring station reported moderate concentrations of tree and grass pollens this week with low concentrations of weeds and mold. Among the most sneeze-making tree pollens for our area right now are members of the pine family, oaks, walnuts and butternuts. All members of the grass family, which are now in bloom, are causing allergic reactions.
Among common weeds, sheep sorrel and sedges are prompting their share of sneezes.
It’s not just pollen, but wind that’s making this season a headache for allergy suffers. Wind knocks the pollen from trees and other plants – and helps it travel to our noses.