Trees and allergies have a complex connection. (GettyImages)
Trees and allergies have a complex connection. (GettyImages)
UIG via Getty Images

“Botanical Sexism” Is Actually a Thing

And for citydwellers it is something to sneeze at

It’s enough to make you rethink that famous Joyce Kilmer poem. If you live in a city and your allergies, along with the telltale sneezing and watery eyes, are bugging you more than ever, male trees may be among the chief culprits, according to an Atlas Obscura report.

Pollination is the name of the game and, the publication notes, male species are “spewing their gametes in every direction. They can’t help it, it’s what evolution built them for.” In turn, female trees trap pollen to fertilize their seeds. That’s just doing what comes naturally. Some trees are distinctly female or male. Others can have male and female flowers.

It turns out that “urban forestry is dominated by male trees, so cities are coated in their pollen,” notes Atlas Obscura, adding that horticulturalist and author Tom Ogren was the first to connect the dots between escalating allergies with city trees. He calls the link “botanical sexism.”

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