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What is Pollen?

Pollen is the male fertilizing agent in plants and consists of microscopic, lightweight, powdery granules. The two main modes of pollen transfer are wind pollination and insect pollination. Plants bearing large amounts of pollen distributed by the wind are the main culprits for causing allergy symptoms because the pollen is light and travels in large quantities for many miles in the air. Wind pollinated plants are not particularly colorful or fragrant, and include grasses, many trees, and weeds.

Insect pollinated plants such as fruit trees and ornamental flowers attract insects with odor, nectar, and brilliant colors. Insect pollinated plants usually pose fewer problems for allergy sufferers since this type of pollen is too sticky and heavy to be transported very far by air.

In the northern Utah valleys, 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 typically high especially during extended warm, dry periods, when it is windy, and low when it is rainy and damp.

Some Tips to Reduce Pollen Exposure

During high pollen times, keep outdoor activities to a minimum if possible. Keep the windows in your house and car closed, use central air conditioning if available, and use a high quality furnace filter to trap any pollen that may be circulating in your home. Don’t hang clothing, bedding or towels outdoors to dry, and shower at night before bedtime help to eliminate pollen.