Author Topic: Pollen from Red cedar trees makes many miserable in allergy season  (Read 8136 times)

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Offline CatManDo

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Pollen from Red cedar trees makes many miserable in allergy season
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2012, 01:36:32 AM »
For many folks, sneezing and watering eyes are reasons to cast hateful looks at cedar trees this time of year.

Along with greening plants and singing birds, other sure signs that we’re on the cusp of spring are runny noses, itchy eyes and all the allergy-related misery associated with many people’s annual battle with cedar pollen. Cedar trees are early pollinators and, in terms of spores released, are one of North America’s most voluminous pollen-producing plants. As you’re heading to the medicine cabinet or pharmacy to get relief, here’s what’s going on around you.

The culprit of your misery is the Eastern red cedar tree, one of Missouri’s more common trees. As can be discerned from its taxonomic name, Juniperus virginiana, red cedar trees aren’t true cedar trees — they’re juniper trees.

This is the time of year cedar trees are tending to the business of producing the next generation. Cedar pollen, like pollen of other plants, is the tree’s male fertilizing agent.

Cedar trees have male and female plants. It’s the males that release pollen from tiny (3 mm-4 mm in diameter) cones at the tips of their scale-like leaves. (Although they don’t look like leaves found on other trees, cedar needles are leaves.)

Female cedar trees have “conelets” that receive the wind-blown pollen spores. The end product is the blue seed-carrying berries the female cedars produce later in the year. (Technically, they’re not berries, they’re cones. Since everyone calls them berries, that’s what they’ll be referred to here, too.)

Since neither male nor female cedar trees can move, the trick to successful cedar reproduction is to release pollen in bulk. The more pollen you send out, the better the chances of some of it finding female trees.

In some instances, this pollen release is so heavy it appears smoke is coming from a tree. Unfortunately, we humans are caught in the middle of this cedar romancing, and the end result for many of us is allergic suffering.

Before we rev up the chain saw and head for the nearest grove of cedars, it should be noted these trees do have redeeming qualities. (It should also be pointed out that wind-blown cedar pollen can travel great distances, so eliminating local cedar trees won’t eliminate your cedar-pollen problems.) Cedar trees can provide valuable windbreaks for livestock, habitat for wildlife and, at Christmas, they’re popular with many people who enjoy having real trees to hang decorations on in their home.

Cedar wood is used to make chests, interior paneling, posts, woodenware and a variety of novelty items. Refined versions of cedar resin are ingredients in ointments, shoe polish and soap.

While the tree’s ability to invade and take over a landscape causes frequent problems for landowners, this aggressiveness and adaptability also has benefits. This ability to quickly take root in a variety of areas — some of which have been disturbed by erosion or human activities — makes this tree a natural “bandage” by providing valuable soil-holding duties.

Though it won’t provide relief from your allergies, you can find more information on cedars and other trees in the free Missouri Department of Conservation book “Fifty Common Trees of Missouri.”

This publication is available at most Department of Conservation offices. Tree information is also available at www.

Visit the Back 40 Books Children’s & Home-Schooling Department by Clicking the Link Below:

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