Recognizing the Pollen Seasons

Plants flower at different times during the year.  In fact, it is possible in Alabama to find some plant in flower during every month of the year. Our winters are rarely cold enough to prevent some tenacious weed like dandelion, or henbit, or some member of the Brassicaceae family of plants from putting out a flower, even in December or January.  The plants that are of most concern to those of us who have pollen allergies are not the ones that have an occasional flower produced in the winter.

The real problem arises when large numbers of particular plant species produce flowers (or produce pollen cones) and fills the air with pollen.  When do you or I need to reduce outside activities or pay particular attention to taking our allergy medications, and when can we be more relaxed knowing that our pollen trigger isn’t a part of the aerospora?

How Do I Avoid Pollen Allergy Symptoms?

The best way to avoid some of the pollen allergy problems is to plan ahead by being aware of the pollen season for your particular allergen.  Pollen forecast calendars are useful as general guides to inform you of when a particular genus or family of plants will be producing pollen.  These are general forecast tools and should not be viewed as the definitive answer to when particular pollen types will be present in the air.

For example, depending upon area temperatures and precipitation levels, the release of a particular pollen may be delayed or accelerated.  Also, traveling even a relatively short distance north or south of Birmingham can affect which pollens are in the air by as much as a week or more.

General patterns emerge when looking at the times when plants are flowering and thus shedding pollen.  Tree pollens are most prevalent in the aerospora during the late winter and spring; grasses are most prevalent in late spring and summer; weeds are most prevalent in summer and early fall.

How Do I Use the Pollen Forecast Calendar?

Use the Pollen Forecast Calendar below as a general guide to help you in determining when you should avoid outside activities or at least ensure that you are following your allergist’s advice about use of prescription and over-the-counter medications.  As mentioned above, remember that this is a general forecast calendar only and that pollen dates vary somewhat from year to year and from locale to locale.

This Pollen Forecast Calendar is based upon pollen counts made by the BSC/AAAC counting station and reported to the National Allergy Bureau (NAB), and on published dates of flowering times for the plants listed in the calendar.  For example, we report all grass pollens in our counts to NAB as Poaceae, and do not attempt to identify grass pollen to the genus or species level.

Hence, the specific dates given for the flowering times of the grasses listed in the calendar come from published sources.  Also, presence of cocklebur, dog fennel, and marsh elder pollen would all be grouped together in our reports to NAB as other weeds since these are not readily distinguishable in our collections.  In addition, pigweed and lamb’s quarters are lumped together as one type of pollen in our pollen counts not as two separate pollen types.

Pollen Calendar

H. Wayne Shew, Ph.D.
NAB certified counter
BSC/AAAC Collection Station—Birmingham, Alabama

For treatment of pollen allergies, schedule an appointment with an allergist from Alabama Allergy by calling us at 205-871-9661.