Trees That Are Making You Sneeze in Texas!
April 28, 2015
Allergies can make you pretty miserable. But do you know exactly what’s making you sneeze? Tree pollen, along with ragweed, grasses and a variety of other blooming plants, contribute to much of the spring and summer allergy suffering.
Flowering plants and trees produce pollen in order to reproduce. So the air becomes filled with pollen as key plants come into bloom. Unfortunately, our immune systems react to pollen as a foreign invader, causing histamines to be released. In turn we experience all those nasty allergy symptoms.
You might be surprised to learn which trees could be contributing to your allergies. There are many trees in North Texas that cause allergies. Knowing which trees cause you symptoms can help you choose a good alternative when you're ready to plant a new tree. Remember that we can also help you choose and plant a new tree that might be easier on your nose!
Oaks are one of the biggest allergy culprits here in North Texas. Live oaks have been so heavily planted across the area that it’s impossible to avoid their pollen. Red oaks also contribute to the pollen load. While the pollen from oak trees is technically less potent than other allergens, the sheer mass of it that is produced for a long period of time can cause trouble. You’ll know it’s oak flower season when you see the dusting of yellow/green pollen all over everything; from our cars to our home and windows.
Cedar Elm trees start blooming in late-summer and early fall and their pollen can irritate allergy sufferers through late fall. You can identify Cedar Elm by its very small leaves and clusters of flowers in August and September. Cedar Elm allergies tend to subside just in time for the Mountain Cedar to begin blooming!
Ash trees tend to cause the most allergy problems in early spring. Their bloom-time, however, is very short, lasting only about two weeks. Most ash species have plants with either male flowers or female flowers. In these species, it’s the male trees that produce all the pollen! If your ash tree produces the winged fruit called samaras, then it’s a female tree. If your ash tree produces horizontally growing cat-whisker like flower spikes then it’s a male tree and will produce pollen.
Pecans are the official state tree of Texas; but that doesn’t mean they won't cause allergy problems. Again, it’s the male trees that produce pollen in pecans. While male trees don’t necessarily produce many flowers, they do produce a lot of pollen that spreads quickly by wind. Details on this Texas native here.
Mountain Cedar, the dreaded cause of winter “cedar fever” is not actually a cedar at all, but a juniper: Juniperus ashei. Often what you think is a winter head-cold could actually just be allergies caused by this juniper. Symptoms appear from about January through March and include extreme sneezing, congestion and sore throats. Mountain Cedar is one of the leading causes of allergies and we don’t recommend planting this in our area!
There are many other trees that make you sneeze, but these are some of the biggest contributors. Overall,
trees that are “dioecious”, meaning male and female flowers occur on
separate plants, are the biggest culprits. Specifically, the male
specimens that produce all the pollen. You’ll need to secure a
female specimen of any dioecious tree to cut down on pollen. Or, choose a
monoecious species (plants that have complete flowers or male and
female flowers on the same plant).
For example: A female specimen of red maple, such ‘Autumn Glory’, won’t produce pollen like it’s male counterpart. You’ll get all the beauty without the sneezes!
Unfortunately, most of the trees on this list are great Texas shade trees. But, any one species can cause problems when over-planted. The best approach is to plant a bigger diversity of species and include female dioecious trees or monoecious trees that don’t cause big allergy problems.
Need help choosing the right tree? We’re here to help!