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Texas

Texas trees that make you sneeze

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The state has no shortage of trees and shrubs that make your eyes water and your nose runny. But with such a wide variety of flora spanning the Lone Star State, it can be difficult to pinpoint which tree is causing your misery.

So you can face your enemy, we spoke with woodland ecologist Carl Flock of Texas A&M to find out which trees and seasons emit funky dirt.

Winter

If you live in Central Texas during the winter months, you will no doubt hear people complaining about the dreaded cedar fever, an allergic reaction to cedar pollen that can cause itchy eyes, sneezing, fatigue, sinus pressure, and a runny nose.

There are seven types of cedar in Texas. Ash juniper is most common in Central Texas and is pollinated in December and January. Shortly after Ash tapers, eastern red cedars native to North and East Texas start pollinating in February and finish pollinating in March.

Symptoms caused by cedar pollination in winter can stand out because there are not many other pollinators at that time.

While cedar allergies in December and January can be particularly severe for Central Texas residents, cedar pollen released by Ash juniper can affect the entire state.

“The pollen from these trees is actually carried by the wind throughout South and East Texas. And there are even records showing pollen moving from Central Texas all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma.”

Unlike pollen from other trees, cedar pollen is extremely granular, which is why it can travel so far.

“Male juniper ash can produce about 500 billion small individual pollen grains,” Flock said.

Spring

Unlike winter, several trees pollinate in spring.

Flock said the trees causing the biggest allergen problems during this time in Texas are ash, elm, oak, pecan and pine. Unlike cedar, these trees tend to have larger pollen, meaning you have to be close to the tree to be affected by the pollen.

Texas Ash is found from Dallas to Central Texas, usually west of the Edwards Plateau. There is also Carolina ash found in the wetter regions of East Texas and Gregg ash in the far western part of the state.

In Central Texas, live oak pollination peaks in late March. These trees grow primarily east of the Balcones Escarpment, but have been planted throughout the state for landscaping purposes.

“Most people who have a car and park it under a live oak tree will tell you that at the end of March you need to go outside every morning and wash the window. Otherwise, you cannot see from it. At this time of year, the pollen on most cars is very thick,” Flock said.

Elm and pecan trees also pollinate in spring. Elm is widely distributed in East, South and Central Texas. Pecan trees grow in similar areas and are widely planted for landscape reasons.

Then there are pines, which can also be allergenic. Pines are found mostly on the east side of Texas.

If these trees are not enough, various grasses, flowers and molds become active throughout the state in the spring, causing allergic reactions.

Summer and autumn

You’ve survived Ash’s thick juniper winter and abundant allergen blooms in the spring. Does that mean you’re out of the woods for the rest of the year?

Flock said mostly, but not quite.

Several types of elms grow in Texas. Some bloom and pollinate in spring, others in late summer and early autumn.

“People who are susceptible to elm are lucky enough to have [allergies] both in spring and early autumn,” he said.

Similarly, there is the Rocky Mountain Juniper, which grows in the western part of the state and starts pollinating around October, Flock said.

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