February: The Cruelest Month for Pollen Sufferers? Nope

The winter release of Ashe's juniper pollen, the spiky yellow dust that causes cedar fever allergies, begins in December and typically peaks in February in Texas and Oklahoma. Life turns miserable for many about then. But as it turns out, as bad as February is for pollen sufferers, it isn't the worst month for airborne pollen.

Pollen's Perfect Storm

In Herbalogic's hometown of Austin, we tend to dread February, the month when cedar season — and the misery that accompanies it — reaches its zenith. But it turns out February isn't quite the cruelest month of all; March and April outstrip the first two months of the year for average allergen levels according to data from Pollen.com. Why is that? They don't say. But it makes sense when you think about it, because we have other pollen producing trees whose prodigious output follows hot on the heels of cedar season. In fact, they frequently overlap in early spring, creating a kind of perfect storm of tree pollen.

A classic example of a live oak.One of these early bloomers is the live oak. I have an old, big one in my own yard, and each March it drops its leaves and starts sprouting a fresh batch. Along the way it flowers like all get out, growing long catkins that release truckloads of pollen. It's so thick, every outside surface within range turns a Chartreuse yellow-green. Then a few days later the finished flowers wilt and fall, making a royal mess. And that's a single oak tree.

The Dirty Double-Dozen

Recently, I was unpleasantly surprised by another pollen fact. It seems the number of tree species producing springtime pollen with significant or severe allergenic properties in Austin's own Travis county is an even two dozen. That's right, twenty-four. Don't even ask about the weeds and grasses, or the merely moderately allergenic plants.

Cedar isn't the only kind of tree pollen that gives allergy sufferers problems.And here's why the perfect storm comparison rings true. Unless we get a decent rain or two after the juniper pollen peaks in February, much of that vicious stuff is still in the environment, waiting to be whisked together with the new spring pollens. All it takes is a stiff breeze. Given the recent years of drought, a lack of rain could easily explain why the average allergen levels in March and April top those of February.

What Can You Do About It?

Unless you can make it rain on demand, very little. There's simply no cure for pollen allergies. But there are ways to avoid pollen. If you expect to be exposed to tree pollen in spite of all your precautions, we recommend supporting your immune system early so it has the extra firepower to withstand the seasonal surge. Easy Breather, our herbal formula for maintaining nose and sinus health, was created to do just that. Give it a try.

Severe Pollen Allergens | Trees (Travis County Texas)

So, just which trees are the worst offenders when it comes to pollen? Here's the list for Herbalogic's home county.

Arizona Walnut (Juglans major)
Ashe's Juniper (Juniperus ashei)
Bastard Oak (Quercus sinuata)
Black Hickory (Carya texana)
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
Black Willow (Salix nigra)
Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica)
Box Elder, Ash-Leaf Maple (Acer negundo)
Burr Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense)
Eastern Poison-Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
Eastern Red-Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
Little Walnut (Juglans microcarpa)
Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
Mexican Ash (Fraxinus berlandieriana)
Mockernut Hickory (Carya alba)
Paper-Mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera)
Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
Post Oak (Quercus stellata)
Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)
Shumard's Oak (Quercus shumardii)
Texas Mulberry (Morus microphylla)
White Mulberry (Morus alba)
Find the trees and plants with allergenic properties in your state and county at www.pollenlibrary.com.
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