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Botanical Sexism and the Rise of Hay Fever

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?

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  • PRO

    Very interesting Fleur thanks for this. I suffer from Tree pollen allergy which was worse than normal this season & for the first time ever I right now have itchy eyes & runny nose atm. Hayfever from, I guess, grass pollen. I don't get it bad as some but it's an irritant, literally!

    I had covid April last year & long covid after & was wondering if this has contributed to my symptoms. But I can't keep blaming that on every ailment.

    • PRO

      I had never heard of botanical sexism before but it explains so much! It's awful isn't it, I suffer really badly from allergies too, so I can empathise. Do you still feel the effects of long covid even now? I imagine everything contributes really, but pollen counts are through the roof nowadays!

      • PRO

        The long covid effected my lung capacity for about 8 months, until January plus fatigue etc. I still get brain fog, annoyinly mostly plant names!

        This also effected my mental health ( I have underlying issues) & had an affect on the regular medication that I take, meaning I ended up being hospitalised for 5 weeks due to this. Still under the care of the team dealing with this, This all has repercussions, get admitted to hospital you loose your driving license for 3 months, not helpful when your self employed.



        • PRO

          Fortunately there are better hay fever remedies available than years ago . 

          I remember when at school the hayfever season seemed to coincide with exams , very difficult when you had to observe silence , no talking , no coughing , no sneezing , no sniffing or breathing . 

          It must have had a detrimental effect on performance and future prospects for many . 

          The remedies available at the time just made me feel drowsy , i started to take natural remedies New Era which were more effective . 

          Not had the classic symptoms in many years from grass pollen but surrounded by trees at home at certain times of year tend to feel breathless which subsides if i go to a different environment , pollen filters in vehicles help too . 

          Not certain about this but i have wondered if the histamine our bodies produce has side effects .


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