As an allergy sufferer, each year I find that my allergies are getting increasingly worse. I’m not the only person who is noticing worse allergies – relatives have also mentioned that they are feeling itchy-eyed and sniffly, people who have never had problems with allergies in the past. I never realised that this could actually be the consequence of something that is right under our noses, until I found out about Botanical Sexism.
Botanical sexism is the phenomenon where city landscapers use only male trees in order to reduce ‘mess’. The USDA Yearbook of Agriculture in 1949 instructed that: “When used for street plantings, male trees should be used to avoid nuisance from the seeds”. As female trees produce flowers, seeds and pods which will inevitably fall to the ground. Male trees, however, don’t cause the same issues as their role is to fertilise the flowers – with pollen. This means that if all trees planted in cities are male, the pollen count is inevitably going to soar, as there are no female trees to attract the pollen particles, consequently leveling out the pollen count. Instead, the pollen particles float in the atmosphere.
The abundant pollen particles traveling in the atmosphere cause their own issues. As CO2 levels are on the rise, pollution particles cling onto pollen grains causing a powdery substance which then shatter into smaller fragments, allowing for the pollen to spread even further. Additionally, the rise in Co2 and consequently the rise in the atmospheric temperature means a longer pollen season. So, a longer and more potent pollen season will by default increase general pollen sensitivity.
There are currently 300 million people with asthma in the world currently, and this figure is meant to rise by a third by 2021 due to the impact of high pollen count. Are you aware of botanical sexism? Is this something you abide by in your own work?