When you start to sneeze and sniffle this season, don’t blame the suspect that seems most obvious. Steve Bender, better known as the Grumpy Gardener, won’t offer you a tissue, but he will help you “choose the right perp” that’s causing those seasonal allergies.
By the end of summer and into the fall in the South, noses start to run and eyes begin to itch. When tissues start to sell out at the grocery store, everyone will point fingers at the assumed culprit—bright yellow pollen from the easy-to-target goldenrod plant. When it comes to allergies, though, goldenrod is really the golden child. But, it has the bright yellow pollen! We know it looks guilty, but don’t forget to check the circumstantial evidence. In order for you to have allergy symptoms from pollen, the pollen actually has to reach you. Goldenrod’s pollen is too heavy to float through the air to tickle your nose—it simply drops on the ground unless insects like bees or butterflies pollinate it.
So who’s to blame in the allergy game? The plant you should be pointing your finger at is ragweed, and there are actually two kinds of ragweed that contribute to your tissue pile. Both common ragweed and giant ragweed can send “clouds of pollen through the air.” Those puffs of pollen are the ones that float right to your nose and make you miserable all season. So don’t blame the pretty yellow stems of goldenrod plants you see outside. Look out for ragweed, which is a “worthless trash plant,” according to Grumpy. While that language may be a little strong to describe a plant, we’re glad to know what’s causing all the sneezing and sniffling this time of year.
So take it from Grumpy: “Goldenrod is nothing to sneeze at.”