Cottonwood “cotton” is flying/ Bad CompanyWritten by Thomas Ogren
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Also to take into consideration is that by point in year when cottony seeds of willows and poplars starts to float about, most of male maples and male ash, and a large number of other trees and shrubs have already released their own pollen. Unless this pollen was washed away by strong downpours of rain, much of it is still lying about, and is still causing problems, weeks or sometimes even months after it was released. To add to all of above, at precisely this same time, grasses start to release pollen. The ornamental landscape clump grasses all produce huge amounts of pollen at this time, as do most bluegrass species, bentgrasses, Bahia grasses, and especially Bermuda lawns that have not been kept closely mowed. By way, newer hybrid Bermuda grasses are sterile and pollen-free, but not old common Bermuda lawns by any means. By time this poplar and willow “cotton” is in air, many people with allergies are already starting to suffer from “systems overload.” There is so much pollen being released and so much just previously released, that it overwhelms immune systems of many individuals. The result of course is allergy. The sad thing about this whole affair is that all too often these female willows or female poplars, female cottonwoods, female aspens, they get blamed for pollen from male trees and then people cut them down! Since female trees have flowers that are electrically charged negative - (their roots are grounded) and since pollen from male trees picks up a positive + charge as they tumble about in air, two are mutually attractive. Female trees are powerful air cleaners, air scrubbers. Every female tree that is chopped down makes air in that neighborhood that much more allergenic. We need to protect our females!
Thomas Ogren is the author of Allergy-Free Gardening, Ten Speed Press. Tom does consulting work on plants and allergies for the USDA, county asthma coalitions, and the Canadian and American Lung Associations. He has appeared on HGTV and The Discovery Channel. His book, Safe Sex in the Garden, was published in 2003. His website: www.allergyfree-gardening.com
CO2, Global Warming, and Pollen-AllergiesWritten by Thomas Ogren
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A stressed lemon tree, for example, will often produce a huge crop of tiny, very seedy lemons. This is simply lemon tree’s way of preparing for it’s own imminent demise and also it’s own legacy of possible seedlings. Another stress example: In daily pollen collections taken by biology professor Dr. Lee Parker and his students from top of Fisher Science Building at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, California, taken during middle of a severe seven year drought, all-time record oak pollen count levels were recorded. In past twenty years in particular there has been a huge increase in this planting of male cloned street trees. These trees can not produce pollen until they mature but with increases in CO2 levels, we can predict that they will mature earlier than expected. Shannon L. LaDeau, a researcher at Duke University found that pine trees grown with elevated levels of CO2 produced three times normal amount of seeds and also matured prematurely. Lewis H Ziska, Ph.D., a USDA researcher, recently found that increased CO2 resulted in huge increases in pollen production of ragweed and other weeds. David Karowe, a researcher at University of Michigan, found another interesting factor about increased CO2 levels and plants: their leaves contain fewer nutrients than normal. Nancy Tuchman, biology professor at Loyola University in Chicago, is also researching feed value of CO2 enhanced leaves on microorganisms and insects. She found that they all grow slower when fed these “enhanced” leaves. “If all plants are altered on a global level, then it’s certainly going to affect all organisms on Earth,” she said. “No one is going to escape.” Compounding all of this is that excessive burning of fossil fuels and resulting pollution may well be compromising our very endocrine and immune systems. Theo Colburn explored this well in very interesting book, “Our Stolen Future.” Great increases in already excessively high rates of urban pollen, combined with further compromised immune systems, may well be recipe for allergies of true epidemic proportions in not too distant future. Dr. Robert C. Stebbins, renowned biologist from UC Berkeley, told me recently in a phone conversation, that planting of all these cloned male dioecious and compromised monoecious trees, “is a classic example of how they just didn’t think about ecology involved.” If we don’t start paying closer attention to how we landscape our cities, and we don’t start getting serious about alternative clean energy sources, rampant allergies and other pollen-related illnesses may well be end result.
This article first appeared in New Scientist Magazine, in London.
Thomas Ogren is the author of Allergy-Free Gardening, Ten Speed Press. Tom does consulting work on landscape and allergies for the USDA, county asthma coalitions, and the Canadian and American Lung Associations. He has appeared on HGTV and The Discovery Channel. His book, Safe Sex in the Garden, was published in 2003. In 2004 Time Warner Books published his latest book: What the Experts May NOT Tell You About: Growing the Perfect Lawn. His website: www.allergyfree-gardening.com