Sunday, March 21, 2010

Does the pollen from Bradford Pears cause allergies?

I have seen Bradford Pears (Pyrus calleryana) blossoming for the past 3 days.  I can smell them too as I drive along Batesville Road.  Most people think Bradford Pear trees release pollen that causes springtime allergies.  Actually this is almost completely false.  The flowers do produce pollen, true.  But over 99.9% or the vast majority of allergy disease-causing pollen comes from other trees, such as oak, maple, birch, and cedar, in the Greenville, S.C. area.  I should know.  My office has the only NAB-certified office in South Carolina.  I've have been tracking the pollen counts since 2000.  Pear pollen has never been seen in the counts.  Why? Pear tree pollen is spread by bees, not the air currents.  An article by Kosisky, Marks and Nelson, published in the March 2010 issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, detailied the pollen counts in Washington, D.C., from 1998-2007.  No mention of Pyrus species pollen was made.  Incidentally, I'd like to praise the authors for their prolonged and detailed work.  This is most definitive study of pollen for an area that I have ever read.  I doubt a study of this detail will ever be done again.  It's GOOD!!
While I'm writing, remember that Bradford Pears are considered by many to be invasive plants.  In other words, they look nice from March to May, but actually they are otherwise a nuisance.  I dislike them.
By the way, what do you call the study of pollen?  Palynology.
I read that some people choose to plant trees based on the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale.  A google search comes up with OPALSTM.  Actually, the name is OPALS with a TM for trade mark.  Thomas L. Ogren has been quoted as saying he devised the Scale and that it is being used by the USDA.  Searching the USDA's and the US Forestry Service's websites, nothing came up for Ogren, OPALS, OPALSTM, plant allergy scale.  This is the first I've ever heard of this concept and his book.  As we change the environment, it's not a bad idea to simply replace what we've destroyed or displaced.  Think if it as being environmentally neutral.
By the way part 2, the peak of the tree pollen season is usually during the second week of April.  So for the sufferers out there, start taking your allergy meds preventatively now!
That's it for today...Your Allergy Dude

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