Pollen & Pollinosis
Pollinosis is an allergic reaction to pollen that is characterized by nasal irritation. It is also sometimes colloquially known as hay fever, although this term more refers to a specific pollinosis to ragweed or other weed pollen common during the haying seasons of late summer and early fall. Spring pollinosis is most frequently an allergy to tree pollen, while summer allergies are usually a reaction to grass pollen.
Pollen is a powdery granule produced in the anther of a flower or the male cone of coniferous or seed plants. Its job is to carry the plant's sperm to a female part of another plant for cross-fertilization.
Plants with strong scents and colorful flowers do not generally cause pollinosis. These plants tend to be pollinated by birds and insects. Instead, it is often trees, weeds, and grasses, which produce tiny grains of pollen easily carried by wind currents, that cause seasonal allergies.
Pollen allergy sufferers are often eager to hear what the local pollen count is, which measures the total number of pollen grains in a cubic meter of air. While this number is helpful in a general way, it does not necessarily break down each type of pollen individually, and therefore its usefulness can vary depending on individuals' specific allergies.
To learn more about pollen and pollen allergies, check out these Science NetLinks resources:
- The Science of Spring (K-8)
- Dances with Bees (3-5)
- Asthma and Allergies (6-8)
- Plants 1: Plant Parents (6-8)
- Anti-Asthma Bug (6-12)
- Antibiotics and Asthma (6-12)
- Asthma and Allergies: The Science Inside (6-12)
- Fish & Flowers (6-12)
- The Allergy Chronicles (9-12)