What is pollen?
Pollen is the male fertilizing agent of plants, trees, grasses, and weeds, consisting of microscopic, powdery granules. The types of plants which are pollinated by wind are responsible for allergic symptoms as the pollen is light and travels in large quantities in the air. Wind pollination is an ancient form of pollination and is much less efficient than insect pollination. It involves the production of large amounts of pollen that go helter skelter with very little going where it's needed, leaving a lot available for inhalation.
Wind-pollinated plants are very different from insect-pollinated plants. The small, lackluster blossoms are exposed to the wind, and many trees like cottonwoods and box elders blossom early before the leaves come out to get in the way. Those things that would attract insects, such as odor, nectar, and brilliant colors, are absent. The pollen grains are small, lightweight, and dry, and include grasses, common trees, and weeds. Fruit trees and ornamental flowers, which are pollinated by insects, pose few problems for allergy sufferers since this type of pollen is too sticky and heavy to be transported very far by air.
Trees usually pollinate between February and May, grasses between May and July, and weeds from July until the first hard frost. The pollen count is high during extended warm, dry periods, and is low when it is rainy and damp. The count also goes up when it is windy.
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