Allergies Home > Tree Pollen Allergy

Triggers of tree pollen allergy can be difficult to avoid or prevent since trees release large amounts of pollen that can be distributed miles away. Possible preventive strategies include avoiding the outdoors when the pollen count is highest and keeping windows in your home and car closed to lower pollen exposure. When buying trees for your yard, avoid types that are known to cause allergies, such as elm, pecan, or walnut.

What Is Tree Pollen Allergy?

Trees are the earliest pollen producers, releasing their pollen as early as January in the southern states and as late as May or June in the northern states.
Trees can aggravate your allergy symptoms, even if they are not on your property, since trees release large amounts of pollen that can be distributed miles away from the original source.

What Causes Tree Pollen Allergy?

Of the 50,000 different kinds of trees, less than 100 have been shown to cause allergies. Most allergies are specific to one type of tree or to the male cultivar of certain trees, such as:
  • Catalpa
  • Elm
  • Hickory
  • Olive
  • Pecan
  • Sycamore
  • Walnut.
The female version of these species are totally pollen-free:
  • Ash
  • Box elder
  • Cottonwood
  • Date palm
  • Maple (red)
  • Maple (silver)
  • Phoenix palm
  • Poplar
  • Willow.
Some people, however, do show cross-reactivity among trees in the alder, beech, birch, and oak family, as well as the juniper and cedar families.

Preventive Strategies for Tree Pollen Allergy

Some possible strategies for dealing with tree pollen allergy include the following:
  • If you buy trees for your yard, look for species that do not aggravate allergies, such as:
    • Crape myrtle
    • Dogwood
    • Fig
    • Fir
    • Palm
    • Pear
    • Plum
    • Redbud
    • Redwood
    • The female cultivars of ash, box elder, cottonwood, maple, palm, poplar, or willow trees.
  • Avoid the outdoors between 5:00 and 10:00 A.M. Save outside activities for late afternoon or after a heavy rain, when pollen levels are lower.
  • Keep windows in your home and car closed to lower exposure to pollen. To keep cool, use air conditioners and avoid using window and attic fans.
  • Be aware that pollen can also be transported indoors on people and pets.
  • Dry your clothes in an automatic dryer rather than hanging them outside. Otherwise, pollen can collect on clothing and be carried indoors.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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