Five Bad Trees for Allergy Sufferers

Many of the most popular trees — including magnolias, crepe myrtles and jacarandas, among others — have very attractive flowers. But while these flowers may smell nice, attract wildlife and beautify your property, other flowers can cause problems – particularly among allergy sufferers.

Many tree flowers produce allergenic pollens, which can leave sensitive individuals sniffling and sneezing for the entire blooming season. But surprisingly, many of the worst offenders don’t even have very showy flowers; they’re wind-pollinated species, who cast their pollen far and wide, causing it to cover everything in its path.

And while different people react differently to different types of pollen, the following five species are among the most likely to cause significant allergy problems. You’ll notice that most have relatively small, inconspicuous flowers, and rely at least partially on the wind to spread their pollen.

1. Maples (Acer spp.)

Maples are some of the few trees that cause significant problems for allergy sufferers yet are pollinated in large part by bees. Maples bloom early, so they are most problematic during the period between late January and early March. Maples are very popular, and they colonize new lands very easily, which means that they are pretty hard for allergic individuals to avoid.

2. Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica)

It’s rather unfortunate that the Arizona cypress is such a problem for many allergy sufferers, as it is quite a nice tree. A grey- to blue-green conifer that reaches 70 feet in height or more, these trees look great in most yards and can be incorporated into screening projects with ease. There are a number of cultivars of the Arizona cypress available, so you can select from several different color forms and growth habits to suit your tastes and the space available.

3. Willows (Salix spp.)

Another group of early-blooming trees, willows usually release an avalanche of pollen from their drooping catkins in January and February, although the bloom can last until May in some places. Like maples, willows are often popular with bees, but they also rely on wind to help cross-pollinate and perpetuate the species. Willows can cause problems for underground pipes and structures where they grow, so there are often multiple reasons to consider removing these trees if you didn’t deliberately plant them yourself.

4. Mountain Cedar (Juniperus ashei)

The mountain cedar is one of the worst allergy offenders in the southwestern United States. Technically junipers, rather than cypresses, these trees are conifers, which don’t produce true flowers at all. Nevertheless, they still produce copious amounts of pollen, which they release into the air en masse. Mountain cedars release their pollen in December and January, and it can cause sufferers to be miserable for this entire time.

5. Elms (Ulmus spp.)

Elms have quite a history in America, and despite problems with Dutch elm disease, there are still plenty of elms growing in residential yards, commercial lots and wild areas throughout several parts of the country. Elms typically bloom – and therefore cause the biggest problems for allergy sufferers – in the early spring, with the peak season occurring in late March and early April. However, the precise blooming period varies from one elm species to the next.

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If you are worried that some of the trees in your yard are wreaking havoc on your eyes, nose and throat, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. One of our trained arborists will visit your property, identify the local trees and point out any that may be problematic. And if you decide that you need the tree removed, we’ll be happy to provide assistance in this regard too.