Happy First Full Day of Spring, everyone! Our horrifyingly warm temperatures have certainly convinced flora and fauna that the new season has arrived. The advent of spring around here is always ushered in by clouds of pollen, and that phenomenon is right on schedule.
My house is in a cold spot. We always get freezes and frosts later than folks on higher ground just up the road. And our plants tend to bloom a week or so later for the same reason. That’s why those new pine cones in the picture probably don’t look quite like the ones in my neighbors’ yards just a few miles east or south of me.
That tall cone in the middle is the source of our annual chartreuse pain. That’s the male cone of the Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda). In a few more days, it will elongate just a bit more and begin spewing pollen far and wide as the winds carry it.
As I’m sure you’ve read, pine pollen is too large to cause allergies. You can blame the oaks, hickories, ashes, and elms for that problem. But the sheer quantity of the pine pollen creates its own issues. Without precipitation (I’m still not typing the R word), everything is rapidly coated with green-yellow dust — so thick on many cars that you can write your name in it. If moisture does fall from the sky, puddles are outlined in chartreuse as the pollen migrates to the edges of the water.
Although pine pollen doesn’t cause allergies, it is big enough and ubiquitous enough to irritate eyes and noses. If I spend any time outside, my eyes feel like they’re full of boulders — too much pine pollen.
Of course, the trees must spread their pollen on the winds to ensure that new trees will be created, so I try to be patient with their procreative enthusiasm during this season.
Our best hope is that R word I won’t type. Nice long precipitation events every few days would settle the pollen to the ground, where it can’t invade noses and eyes. Pollen season is just another good reason to pray for precipitation. It’s going to be a scary summer if we don’t see a shift to wetter weather patterns soon.