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Please explore our website and find out how we are making gardens and landscapes healthier places by using allergy friendly plants.  Please join us in the fight to make our environment better, safer, and healthier for everyone, especially those affected by allergies and asthma.

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By: Peter Prakke 

What do male clonal tree species and COVID–19 have in common? Well, both cause respiratory difficulties, especially for those with chronic medical conditions. It’s the male plant species that produce large amounts of pollen which is detrimental to the millions of asthma, allergy and COPD sufferers worldwide. Depending on the time of year pollen levels can reach staggering levels. For many decades, medical and environmental experts have studied this pollen tsunami every spring. Since each year’s plant growing season seems to be extended, pollen can be an ongoing hindrance for those with respiratory diseases. 

It wasn’t until Thomas Ogren, lecturer and author of the “Allergy Fighting Garden,” brought the consequences to our immediate attention did we fully understood the health impact. Based on his research, he created OPALS® - Ogren Plant Allergy Scale. This is the numerical scale (1 – 10) that ranks each plant according to 130 possible factors, either positive or negative to impact our health. Overall, he found that female species plants have no pollen, resulting in no impact to our health. In fact, female plants with large bright colour petals attract pollinating insects. Without these pollinators our food sources would be severely limited.

Male plants are known to cause allergies with their abundance of pollen. People may experience skin rashes from contact with flowers, sap or leaves. The result is a negative impact to our health. Pollen grains are produced in different sizes and in large quantities. It’s these grains with their strong fragrance that can trigger allergies. Any plant known to be wind-pollinated is susceptible. 

 Q:      If I want to purchase an allergy-friendly plant, shrub or tree what should I be looking for? 

 A:      Purchase plants with bright flowers, which are generally pollinated by insects or birds. Avoid wind pollinated plants; these are the pollen producing, asthma causing ones. Pollen from one individual plant is carried by air currents to another.         Dandelions are an example of a wind pollinated plant. 

 Q:     How do I tell the difference when I’m in my garden or at the garden centre, between a MALE or FEMALE shrub or tree? 

 A:     Male flowers will indeed have pollen, although male plants don’t produce pollen year-round. Keep in mind that pollen is not always bright yellow. It can also be white, grey, green, brown, red, and even purple. Female shrubs and trees typically have fruit (berries), seeds, and/or seedpods.

    Research indicates the consequences of planting male, native or non-native pollen producing trees are:

  • Greater costs and overstraining of our medical resources by children and adults visiting doctor offices and emergency rooms with respiratory issues.
  • Decades ago, planting of equal 50% male and 50% female trees was the norm. This was a great ratio for biodiversity and our environment. The scale balance is now skewed with mostly male pollen producing species planted. Why? Because we demanded clean no fruits, seedpods or flowers littered our streets, parks or public properties. We have traded our health for cleanliness. 
  • The increase in CO2 matter in the atmosphere has caused pollen to be larger in size and volume. CO2 is the growth hormone to trees.
  • With urban planting, we reinvented the natural environment wheel, but without the necessary balance found in nature. We have forgotten how plants reproduce, and the simple fact that plants are male and female. In fact, we have developed other artificial methods of plant propagating that have their own issues.  

We can’t put all the blame on nature or the plants themselves for causing asthma, allergies or COPD. Rather, we can help to create a more balanced natural environment by putting a stop to poor planning and planting in our gardens. Here are some facts:

  • The entire pollen season may last from March to October.
  • Tree pollen is most prevalent in early spring. Whereas, grasses produce pollen in spring and summer. Weeds and ragweed causes hay fever in late summer and fall. One ragweed plant can produce 1 billion pollen grains.

What about asthma and COVID-19? Some of the symptoms can appear similar: difficulty breathing and pneumonia forming in the lungs. In extreme cases the coronavirus touches your lungs weakening your immune system. And this year we have the COVID-19 pandemic which can be a double dose for the millions of respiratory sufferers. Will there a second wave of the coronavirus this fall? We hope not, but the scientists predict we can expect one. Now is the time to be conscious of the plants we are adding to our gardens to give asthma sufferers a fighting chance of recovery.

  • Graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Computer Science, focusing in Artificial Intelligence
  • Believes that productivity is immensely boosted when people can breathe the air without suffering adverse reactions and that everyone should have access to clean, healthy air to breathe where they work, live and play.

      SEASONAL FLOWERING PLANT CHART

                                                                                                                   From: Peter Prakke

The seasonal flowering plant chart will assist you, to design your continuous flowering garden and container plants, depending the environmental conditions in your area. 

Emphasis has been placed, to protect all the “respiratory” sufferers.  

 

FLOWERING SEASON

ALLERGY RATING

COMMON NAME

BOTANICAL NAME

SPRING

SUMMER

FALL

Common yarrow

Achillea milefolium

x

x

        4

Flossflower

Ageratum houstonianum

x

x

2

Hollyhock

Alcea rosea

x

x

x

3

Love-lies-bleeding

Amaranthus caudatus

x

x

 6

Snapdragon

Antirrhinum majus

x

x

x

2

Columbine

Aquilegia 

x

1

Butterfly weed

Asclepias tuberose

x

x

3

Astilbe

Astilbe spp

x

x

4

Wax begonia

Begonia semperflorens

x

x

4

Marigold

Calendula spp

x

x

x

4

Vinca

Catharanthus roseus

x

x

1

Shasta daisy

Chrysanthemum x leucant

x

x

 6   

Rock rose

Cistus spp

x

x

4

Clematis

Clematis spp

x

x

x

1

Larkspur

Consolida ambigua

x

x

x

3

Morning glory

Convolvulus tricolour

x

x

x

2

Sweet William

Dianthus barbatus

x

x

x

3

Dianthus (Pink’s)

Dianthus deltoids

x

x

x

3

Bleeding heart

Dicentra exima

x

x

x

4

Foxglove

Digitalis purpurea

x

x

2

Fleabane

Erigeron spp

x

x

4

California poppy

Eschscholzia californica

x

3

Blanket flower

Gailardia x grandiflora

x

x

        6

Gaura

Gaura lindheimeri

x

x

2

Gazania

Gazania rigens

x

x

4

Globe amaranth

Gomphrena globosa

x

x

4

Strawflower

Helichrysum bracteatum

x

x

4

Hellebores

Helleborus spp

x

4

Daylily

Hemerocalis spp

x

x

6

Day lily

Hemerocallis hybrids

x

x

6

Coral bells

Heuchera spp

x

x

1

Impatiens

Impatiens spp

x

x

1

Candytuft

Iris sibirica

x

x

4

Spotted dead nettle

Laminum maculatum

x

x

1

Lantana

Lantana camara

x

x

 6   

Lavender

Lavendula angustifolia

x

5

Lily

Lilium hybrids

x

4

Flax – perennial

Linum perenne

x

x

4

Sweet alyssum

Lobularia maritime

x

x

5

Honeysuckle

Lonicera aempervirens

x

x

 6

Money plant

Lunaria annua

x

x

4

Mandevilla

Mandevilla x amabilis

x

x

4

Bee balm

Monarda didyma

x

x

3

Forget-me-not 

Myosotis

x

2

Daffodil

Narcissus hybrids

x

4

Catnip

Nepeta spp

x

x

x

2

Flowering tobacco

Nicotiana spp

x

x

3

Love-in-a mist

Nigella damascene

x

x

3

Evening primrose

Oenothera spp

x

x

3

Sweet marjoram

Origanum majorana

x

3

Peony

Paeonia hybrids

x

x

3

Oriental poppy

Papaver orientale

x

x

3

Poppy

Papaver spp

x

3

Geranium

Pelargonium x hortorum

x

x

3

Petunia

Petunia hybrids

x

x

x

2

Scarlet runner bean

Phaseolus coccineus

x

x

4

Moss rose

Portulaca grandiflora

x

x

2

Salvia

Salvia spp

x

x

4

Salvia

Salvia x sylvestres

x

x

x

4

Zinnia

Santivitalia procumbens

x

x

4

Soapwort

Saponaria spp

x

x

3

Pincushion flower

Scabiosa columbaria

x

x

x

3

Bridal wreath sp.

Spiraea spp

x

x

 5

Marigold

Tagetes hybrids

x

x

 6

Meadow rue

Thalictrum aquilegiifolium 

x

x

x

 9

Black-eyed-Susan

Thunbergia alata

x

x

2

Spiderwort

Tradescantia spp

x

x

4

Nasturtium

Tropaeoleum majus

x

x

3

Tulip

Tulipa hybrids

x

3

Mullein

Verbascum spp

x

x

Verbena

Verbena spp

x

x

3

Pansy

Viola spp

x

x

x

1

 

This allergy rating is according the OPALS® (Ogren Plant Allergy Scale) rating.

1 = low (allergy friendly) – 10 = high allergy rating. (Avoid) 

Visit: www.veteransgardeningguide.com

Copyright: Peter’s Environment series - #422463

[By clicking on an item below you will be taken to a page containing that article]

2018

 

 

Brave new world...of non-allergenic parks in Hamilton  [December 9, 2018]

 

Plants for Clearning the Air  [November 12, 2018]

 

Children's Right to Play and Recreation in Urban Areas  [October 15, 2018]

 

How Botanical Sexism Agitates Your Allergies   [August 29, 2018]

 

 Not all plants trigger allergies  [May 15, 2018]

 

'Pollen bomb' video shows that the male species is responsible for your allergies  [May 11, 2018]

 

Allergy season is getting longer in parts of Canada.  Blame climate change, experts say  [May 6, 2018]

 

Guernsey resident celebrated at our Allergy Heroes Awards  [May 4, 2018]

 

We calculated how much money trees save for your city  [April 27, 2018]

 

Pollen-allergy researcher Tom Ogren talks allergy friendly gardening  [April 24, 2018]

 

Tokyo struggles with worst hay fever outbreak on record  [April 23, 2018]

 

'Pollen bomb" brings misery after joy of warm weather  [April 22, 2018]

 

How to Keep Allergens Out of Your Garden with Expert Thomas Ogren  [April 11, 2018]

 

In sniffling Islamabad, pollen allergies soar as spring brings less rain   [April 9, 2018]

 

Antibiotics and antacids linked to allergies in kids   [April 6, 2018]

 

the Morning Blaze with Doc Thompson (Hour 1)  [April 5, 2018)

 

'BOTANICAL SEXISM'?  Scientist blames allergies on 'male-dominated' tree planting   [April 5, 2018]  

 

Tips for making your home a pollen-free zone   [April 3, 2018]

 

Botanical sexism with trees making seasonal allergies worse   [April 3, 2018]

 

Plants for health   [March 2018]

 

NICH Releases The Power of Plants: Enriching Lives, Creating Jobs, Building Wealth, Saving Money  [March 30, 2018]

 

Is 'botanical sexism' making allergies worse?   [March 29, 2018]

 

CDA Plans to Remove Paper Mulberry Trees   [March 29 2018]

 

Be Aware of Pollen!  Allergenic Plants   [March 16, 2018]

 

Tom Ogren on Trees in the Built Environment    [March 12, 2018]

 

Not to be sniffed at    [March 2018]

 

Impact of Cleaning Products on Women's Lungs as Damaging as 20-A-Day Cigarette Habit: Study   [February 18, 2018] 

 

Want Cleaner Air?  Try Using Less Deodorant   [February 16, 2018]

 

Opinion: Here's a Way You Probably Haven't Thought of to Reduce Allergies and Asthma   [February 13, 2108]

 

Trees make you healthier, but choose wisely   [January 10, 2018]

 

 

 

For articles in 2017 please click on one of the following:  2017           

 

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