You’re Not Allergic to Goldenrod


Remember this photo from Friday of the oak leaves and flowers? You may wonder what this has to do with goldenrod.

Spring and fall are primarily the two times that folks have allergies here (at least to plants–there are other allergies to pets, dust, etc that I am not going to discuss in a gardening blog).

Those with fall allergies quite often think they are allergic to goldenrod because that’s what’s in bloom when they are symptomatic. But the real culprit is an unassuming plant called ragweed that has dull buff colored flowers and tons of pollen.

I have spring allergies. And for years, I thought that I was allergic to flowering trees, meaning dogwood, magnolias, flowering cherries and things like that. But no!

The true spring allergens are caused by things like oaks, maples, birches, junipers–things where if you were not looking closely you might never see a flower!

So it suddenly dawned on me that if I was confused for years, maybe others were too.

And no wonder goldenrod gets unfairly blamed in the fall.

4 thoughts on “You’re Not Allergic to Goldenrod

  1. The Chatsworth Lady May 12, 2020 / 8:40 am

    As a hyper-allergic person I have a veritable smorgasbord of allergens to blame, but ragweed is definitely one of them, for sure. There’s a very handy book, ‘The Allergy-Fighting Garden’ by Thomas Leo Ogren, that ranks trees, shrubs and plants from 1 to 10 based on the level of allergens each produces. Anything rating a 1 or 2 is best for allergy sufferers, but the rankings can vary widely within some genera. Many cultvars of red maple, Acer rubrum, are only a 1, but some others are an 8 or 9; two varieties of Acer negundo are even a 10.

  2. gardendaze May 12, 2020 / 9:13 am

    Yes, at one point I talked about Thom’s book on my blog and I reviewed it for our horticulture society. It’s a very important work. As quite the allergy sufferer myself (a freak attack last fall left me with vestibular neuritis that caused vertigo that then caused double vision that I am still suffering with to this day–I have to wear prism glasses to correct it), I am NOT one to take allergies lightly. My sympathies are with you!


  3. tonytomeo May 15, 2020 / 12:44 am

    Yup! I hear the same thing. I try to remind people that colorful flowers are designed to attract insects to transmit their pollen. Those that are not colorful rely on wind, so produce the sort of pollen that gets around more efficiently.

  4. gardendaze May 15, 2020 / 5:39 am

    I thought maybe if I started the education now….

    The goldenrod myth is really entrenched. It’s sort of like the “poinsettias are poisonous,” myth. Some things are just going to hang on forever.


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