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Itchy eyes? Sneezing? Blame the dreaded mountain cedar

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Oh yes, it’s that time of year again. The time when spring tree, grass, and bluebonnets bloom pollen counts rise so high they begin to cause misery with the many allergy sufferers in the DFW area. A surprise to many, according to Angela Patterson, bluebonnets are currently in bloom along State Highway 121 as you get close to the north entrance of DFW Airport. The JCPenney corporate headquarters in Plano has big meadows of bluebonnets. The native spring bloom plant grows beside highways and in meadows along with other wildflowers with many a pollen-laden tree and grass intermixed.

More in store

With all the beauty that spring brings, there's one little downside: seasonal allergies. The months of January and February (with March anticipated to be close behind if not worse), recorded very high pollen counts. Trees were the main offender with mulberry, elm and pine giving us the most problems. In April grass becomes a problem for allergy sufferers. The great news is that Ragweed doesn't bloom until the end of the summer. The ruthless news is that it's as dominant in Texas as the bluebonnets. But aren't those ornamental trees gorgeous when they bloom? Please pass the tissue,.

What is Pollen?

Google’s dictionary definition for the noun pollen is:

A fine powdery substance, typically yellow, consisting of microscopic grains discharged from the male part of a flower or from a male cone. Each grain contains a male gamete that can fertilize the female ovule, to which pollen is transported by the wind, insects, or other animals.

From the mid 18th cent.: from Latin, literally ‘fine powder.’

And from nbcdfw:

Many North Texas hospitals are admitting patients not only suffering flu-related symptoms, but also patients experiencing severe allergies from pollen from a tree or grass, and the early spring bloom of bluebonnets (or they soon will be).

Chronic allergy sufferers say spring mountain cedar pollen is so bad, they’re hastening to the doctor for allergy shots.

Allergy physician Steven Cole in Dallas said the mountain cedar pollen comes from Juniper trees and there are some in North Texas. However, most are in Central Texas, where Cole said heavy rainfall has caused the trees to produce extra pollen.

“It’s the only tree we know of that’s pollenating in the winter,” Cole said. “The pollen is really high in Central and North Texas and whenever you have these winds that kick up, they blow the pollen for hundreds of miles and that’s what we see here.”

Surviving mountain cedar

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram archives has some pollen-surviving tips:

  • Keep windows closed at home during the pollen season, especially on windy days.
  • Keep the home dusted, but the person who is allergic should not be doing the dusting.
  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Always shower immediately after working outside or spending time outside. This will get the pollen off your skin and out of your hair.
  • Limit outdoor time on windy days when the pollen counts have been high.
  • Wear close-fitting or “wrap-around” sunglasses to reduce pollen in the eyes. Use artificial-tears eye drops to wash away the pollen.
  • If you have allergies, take prescribed antihistamines and nasal sprays daily during the season. They work much better to prevent allergy symptoms before they start than to fix the symptoms once they start.

Pollen forecast for today

Click on these links to learn the spring tree, grass, and in some locations, bluebonnets bloom pollen forecast for your area today.

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