Pollen in North Carolina

Pollen in North Carolina

Throughout the year, plants release pollen as part of their natural reproductive process. Unfortunately, some of those plants rely on wind to spread their pollen. People with pollen allergies know all too well what comes with airborne pollen: stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing, and more.

You might think that the pollen causing your nose to run comes from flowers, but it’s more likely from trees, grass, and weeds. Pretty flowers and colorful plants are attractive to insects, which typically means they rely on insect-pollination. When plants don’t rely on wind for pollination, they don’t produce as much pollen (and the pollen they do produce usually isn’t airborne). These wind-pollinated plants are the enemy of allergy sufferers all over!

Types of Pollen in North Carolina

In North Carolina, we don’t just have one pollen season—we have three. There’s some overlap in these seasons. The different pollen seasons are determined by the types of plants producing pollen.

Pollen from Trees

Between March and June, trees are releasing their pollen into the air. This allergy season tends to peak in April. Some of the biggest tree pollen culprits in North Carolina include:

  • River birch
  • American beech
  • Hickory
  • Oak
  • Yellow poplar

Magnolia, crepe myrtle, Bradford pear, Leyland cypress, sweetgum, red maple, and loblolly pine sometimes cause allergies in certain individuals, but they’re not known for having as big of an effect as the others. You might find some other allergy-inducing trees, such as willow, pecan, mulberry, elm, cottonwood, cedar, aspen, and ash trees, though these are not as commonly found in Charlotte.

Pollen from Grass

Grass pollen season lasts from mid spring until fall, and the peak is between April and May. The most common types of grass in NC are Bermuda grass, tall fescue, centipede, ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and zoysia grasses. If you know that the grass on your property is tall fescue grass, you’re in luck! Tall fescue isn’t typically a major cause of allergy symptoms.

Pollen from Weeds

The third pollen season, caused by weeds, lasts from August until frost, with the peak in September. Various weeds in the Carolinas cause allergies, but ragweed is by far the worst.

Ragweed

Ragweed produces about a billion pollen grains per season, and there are 17 species of it in the country. In the US, 23 million people have a ragweed allergy! Rural parts of Charlotte tend to suffer from worse ragweed allergies than others, but if weather permits, ragweed can travel up to 400 miles, affecting people even in the middle of the city.

The ragweed season in the US starts around mid-August. In the Charlotte area, peak ragweed season is September, and because Charlotte has warmer weather and ragweed produces pollen until frost, the season can last as late as November.

How to Survive Pollen Season

Allergy season can seem hopeless. It feels never-ending, and the allergy symptoms seem inescapable! Fortunately, there are a few things you can do! To survive Charlotte allergy season:

  • Don’t cut the grass if you can avoid it! Having a family member that doesn’t suffer from allergies or hiring a lawn company to cut your grass during allergy season can protect you from one of the worst things for your allergies. You’re exposed to seven to eight times more grass pollen when you cut the grass in comparison to when you’re outdoors notcutting grass. If you have to be the one to mow your lawn, we recommend wearing a high efficiency mask or a painter’s mask to help block out some of the pollen. Other yardwork, such as raking leaves or gardening can also cause allergy flare-ups.
  • Don’t go outside in the morning if you can avoid it. 5am-10am is prime pollen time! If you have a ragweed allergy, staying indoors even later is a good idea. 10am-3pm is the worst time of day for ragweed allergies. Late afternoons or early evenings are best for allergy sufferers to venture into the outdoors.
  • Rain is your best friend! Dry, windy days can increase the pollen count in the environment, while rainy weather can temporarily decrease the amount of pollen in the air.
  • Keep track of the pollen count in your area. There are plenty of resources available online for allergy sufferers to find updated pollen counts daily. If the pollen count is notably high, it’s best to stay indoors. Pollen count is calculated by the number of pollen particles per cubic meter.
  • Tell your technician about your allergies. To learn about the importance of telling your tech that you have allergies, check out our blog post!

Allergies Are Never Fun

Sneezing, coughing, watery eyes… allergies are the worst! Developing a better understanding of what you’re allergic to is a huge part of figuring out your allergy survival plan. If you’re extremely allergic to ragweed, you now know that September is the peak of ragwood season, and you should stay indoors as much as you can. Even if you have to go outdoors, now you have the knowledge you need to keep yourself away from the worst of the pollen!

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