Yellow pollen powder leaves behind tendrils and cones

Puppy covered in oak pollen tendrils
Photo courtesy Dianna Harvey Williams. Used by permission
Earlier this month I opened my front door and thought, Oh no! It’s here again! My porch and car were covered with yellow powder. A misty rain had turned it into wet paste on my windshield, and the wipers only smeared it.

So what is that yellow stuff? Oak and pine bloom around the same time, and both generously distribute their yellow pollen. If pine is prominent where you are, there’s a good chance the culprit is pine. But if oak trees dot your landscape, it’s probably the oaks sneezing out their pollen.

If it makes your sinuses drain and your eyes tear, I’d venture to guess the oaks or other plants that pollinate simultaneously with pine are to blame. Pine allergy is uncommon because its pollen is heavy, causing it to fall to the ground rapidly. However, some species of pine do have pollen grains that are lighter and linger in the air longer, so pine can’t be ruled out completely. Oak pollen is a fine powder that floats much longer, mixing with the air we breathe. During my years as an allergy nurse, I tested many people for allergies. Though we have lots of pine trees here, we almost never saw a patient who tested positive to pine pollen in our Arkansas/Oklahoma border area.

Dr. Stephen Klemawesch, owner and founder of Allergy Associates in St. Petersburg, FL, summarized it well in his February 12, 2012 post. Click the link to read his summary. It’s only two sentences, and very nicely done.

Molly, after playing in the yard
My friend Dianna Harvey Williams snapped these photos of her puppy Molly. Used by permission.
For much of the U.S., the pines and oaks have released their pollen now and it’s gone with the wind, leaving behind only cones and tendrils to scatter our yards. I can relate to these cute photographs my friend Dianna took of her puppy Molly after a romp in the yard. Last week I took the trash out on a windy day, and when I came back in I noticed in the mirror that I had a couple of oak tendrils on top of my head. I tossed them outside and about 30 minutes later I was subconsciously scratching the spot where they landed on my hair. I finally figured out that pieces of the tendrils, and maybe the last remnants of pollen still clinging, had made their way through my hair and onto my scalp. Molly, I understand!

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