Pollen and allergies are signs of springSo far this spring has been extremely rejuvenating to my senses. The smell of the air alone seems to have a fresher aroma and after a spring shower or two, the moist earth seems to reek the scent of life. You can almost feel the plants activating their growth hormones with all the recent changes at hand and spring forth with small shoots of greenery.
By: John Zvirovski, The Jamestown Sun
So far this spring has been extremely rejuvenating to my senses. The smell of the air alone seems to have a fresher aroma and after a spring shower or two, the moist earth seems to reek the scent of life. You can almost feel the plants activating their growth hormones with all the recent changes at hand and spring forth with small shoots of greenery.
Of course, we can all see the changes around the region with the emerald hue that is developing in the tree canopies. Most of this color is not due to leaves coming out, but more due to the flowers and seeds developing. These insignificant blooms on the trees create a significant amount of pollen that becomes airborne during this time of year.
Many of us do not have to physically see these changes, because our bodies will feel the effects through the presence of allergies. People with allergies to pollen have a difficult time smelling anything that is pleasant with spring or summer. The congested state throughout the growing season can act as a deficit.
Most trees produce lightweight pollen grains that are dispersed through the air via the wind. When we breathe this pollen in, it inflames the sensitive sinus and nasal passages, thus making us feel like we have a cold that will not go away. It is not a way many of us choose to spend a spring full of fresh and alluring smells. In the south, this pollination period is very noticeable when the live and laurel oaks begin to bloom. The pollen produced creates a yellowish green film all over the objects below. Cars become covered in it and have to go through frequent washings to remain clean. It’s a negative time of year when it comes to allergy sufferers.
I remember as a child, many people use to say “stay away from the goldenrod plants as that will just make your allergies worse.” I never quite understood why this plant would be so much worse than others. It turns out it was just a figment of our imagination, as goldenrod does not produce an airborne type of pollen. In fact, it produces a heavy, sticky pollen grain that is only dispersed when an insect comes in contact with it and moves it to another location. The real culprit of the summer season is called ragweed. This plant produces a high level of lightweight pollen that moves through the air until the frosts arrive during the fall season. Since this is a very common weed on the Plains, it is difficult to eradicate or avoid.
Overall, pollen is not a negative element produced by plants. It might be to an allergy sufferer, but pollen is a grain particle that acts to fertilize the eggs of female plants. This is not to say all pollen is of the male species; in fact, all pollen does not have the element to reproduce, but some does. When the pollen develops on the stamens of the plant, it is moved via insects to the pistil of the plant, where it fertilizes the egg to produce a seed. Most plants produce a heavy, sticky pollen that relies on insects for pollination. Most trees produce the lightweight pollen that is moved via the air. It is considered one of the survival elements, as many trees typically bloom so early in the season that most insects are not present to aid in their dispersal.
Insects typically transport pollen by accident. Most insects collect pollen for its nutritional value to feed their developing larvae at home. Bees will collect pollen to bring back to the hive in order to nurture their young until they are able to find their own food sources. Pollen is considered high in protein, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and the B vitamins. To a bee’s development, this is a nutrient-rich super food. Of course, while they collect this pollen for their own purposes, some of it is brushed off onto other plants of the same species, which helps in the reproductive cycle of the plant itself. There are many other insects that also consume pollen for it nutritional value.
Pollen is highly visible on blooming plants such as lilies, pasque flowers, daisies, dahlias, roses and tulips. It is the yellow clusters that develop in the center of the flower and if you touch them, it will cling to your skin or clothes. In many cases, when in contact with your clothes, if you try and rub it off, it will create a yellow, orange or brown stain that is difficult to remove. If this does occur, do not brush it off, simply get a pipe cleaner and gently rub it off. The pipe cleaner’s fine fibers will actually lift 95 percent of the pollen from your clothes, preventing a stain. It is this sticky nature that helps it cling to the elements that disperse it in nature.
As an allergy sufferer myself, I am not overly fond of all the pollen in the air, especially on a windy day. In the larger picture, it does not particularly affect my life in an adverse way other than a little congestion and a great deal of sneezing. The only thing that will keep me from my garden and the great outdoors is severe cold temperatures. It is just another fact of life I deal with as I continue on my journey. Pollen is a product of nature that I learn to admire for its value and purpose. Like I tell others, think of pollen as an annoying person in your life; the person may bother you at times, but he or she still has a valuable role in life that creates the type of balance we need for a healthy environment. Food for thought as we continue to grow as people. Enjoy the spring season as it is off and running! Also, keep a few extra Kleenex handy if you are part of the population with allergies.