Sex and Trees and Pollen

May 2, 2010

Pollen is produced by the male flowers of plants and trees.  The flowers of trees that produce pollen do not need to be particularly pretty or colorful.  In fact, as a general rule, the less attractive the flower, the more the plant relies upon wind to spread the pollen around.  Conversely, the more attractive the flower, the more likely it is that pollination is facilitated by insects that are drawn to the plant by the flower itself.

Some trees have male and female flowers on the same tree.  These are called Monoecious trees.  Examples of these trees are Alder, Beech, Birch, Cedar, Hemlock, Honey Locust, Oak, Pine, Plane and Spruce.

Others have male and female flowers on separate trees.  These are called Dioecious trees.  Examples of these trees are Ash, Box Elder, Cedar, Cottonwood, Ginkgo, Juniper, Mulberry, Poplar and Willow.

Now, if only the male flowers of trees produce pollen, aren’t female Dioecious trees hypoallergenic by definition?  The answer to that is yes.  The question that is harder to answer is whether surrounding yourself with only female Dioecious trees can help your tree pollen allergy symptoms.  The answer to that is likely yes and no.  Female Dioecious trees and Monoecious tress exist within the real world of nature and we know that  tree pollen can travel great distances with pollen found by researchers up to 2000 feet in the air and up to 25 miles off shore.  Therefore we know that people allergic to tree pollen are affected by pollen from trees planted far from their local neighborhood or back yard.  However,  it makes sense, that the pollen from local trees, especially those in someone’s back yard or on the block where they live, will contribute to the local pollen count and the more local pollen produced the higher that count.  People allergic to tree pollen are all too familiar with the problems from that tree “right outside my window”.

So, what do I suggest?   If you are in a position of deciding what type of tree is planted in your yard or on the street by your house or apartment, by all means choose a female Dioecious tree.  There are plenty of wonderful female Dioecious trees to choose from and it might help reduce the level of pollen in your immediate area.  Just don’t expect to be free of tree pollen allergy symptoms no matter how many female trees you are able to surround yourself with.  Nature will take care of making sure you are exposed to pollen regardless.

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