'Botanical sexism' is adding fuel to allergy sufferers' symptoms
The number of people suffering from allergies has increased. The cause is partly man-made and related to male trees.
In the U.S., the CDC estimates 60 million people per year suffer from allergic rhinitis or hay fever.
Allergist and horticulture experts agree that since about the 1980s, there's been a rise in the number of patients suffering from seasonal allergies.
Warmer conditions are one factor for the increase, but horticulturist Tom Ogren also points to "botanical sexism," or the intentional planting of male trees in urban landscapes.
After Dutch Elm disease swept across the country, new trees were planted. This provided the opportunity to replace the female of species that produces fruit, flowers and seedpod litter. With the male trees, however, comes a reason for sneezing and itchy, watery eyes – pollen.
Allergist and immunologist, Dr. Haroon Khalid recommends allergy sufferers speak with a medical professional for treatment to ease their symptoms.
Ogren says a change to your lawn can help by replacing pollen-producing male grass with seed-producing female grass.
"I advise people to cocoon themselves," with female shrubs and trees, the horticulturist suggested.
- Dr. Haroon Khalid, board-certified allergist and immunologist, owner of Allergy & Asthma Specialists of Kansas City
- Tom Ogren, horticulturist and author of "The Allergy-Fighting Garden: Stop Asthma and Allergies with Smart Landscaping"