Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Don't Hate All Men

Just this one.
Well, it's not really a man, but it is the male of its species.
This is the male Ash Juniper aka Mountain Cedar.

Here is his female counterpart.
She is lovely and evergreen and provides berries for wildlife. Especially migratory fruit-eating birds.
She provides erosion control and nesting sites and nesting materials.
She provides shade where other trees cannot survive.
Her only enemies are fire, chainsaws and bulldozers.

But can't the male tree do all those things too?

Yes, he can, but he also does one extra thing that I hate.
One extra thing that thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of people hate as well.

He pollinates.
He pollinates in a big way.

Central Texas is home to millions and millions of these trees. They grow up to 30 feet tall.
Every winter, usually just after Christmas, he and his fellow trees begin their quest to pollinate as many female trees as possible.
They do it with gusto.
Overkill is another word that comes to mind.

Two days ago, the pollen count was 5629gr/m3/High
What does that mean?
It means that 5,629 grains of pollen were counted in a cubic meter of air. That count is considered "High"

The thing is, they're only getting started.
The picture at the top is of a tree on my neighbor's property. The things that look like teeny, tiny pine cones are pollen that haven't "popped" yet.

But why all the fuss? Why do I hate this tree?

Because it makes me miserable in a very big way.
It makes nearly half of everyone it encounters, miserable.

Around here, it's called "Cedar Fever".
Itchy, runny, swollen eyes.
Respiratory problems.
Sneezing fits, followed closely by a plugged up nasal system.
The inside of my nose feels just as I would imagine it would feel if I snorted Tabasco sauce.
The outside of my nose becomes raw, despite my using those tissues that are infused with lotion.
I get sinus headaches bad enough to send me to bed.
I have to breathe with my mouth open, because my nose doesn't work.
I end up with a dry mouth and dog breath from doing all that mouth breathing.
I get achy, and whiney, and grouchy.

It's an allergic reaction that Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra won't touch.
Benedryl works, but taking a nap while driving your kids home from school is frowned up by most folks.

Central Texas becomes a town of zombie-like humans. Mouths agape, noses running, swollen eyes and brain fogged. Everyone is running on low sleep, too much OTC medication and lack of oxygen.

It is the price we all pay for living here.
Luckily for all of us, the pollen is often done with its lovemaking by mid-February.
Just in time for Valentine's day, when we begin our own lovemaking.

Until then, we suffer.
If you have business with someone from Central Texas this time of year, and they seem a little off, blame it on the Cedar.
Specifically, the male Cedar trees.



  1. Wow, this is amazing! I never knew about these male cedar trees! Thanks for the info!

    Unfortunately, I don't know anyone else from Central Texas, so I can't see if they're suffering!


  2. So why can't they just look pretty. Nobody asked them to be so annoying. :) Very interesting post.

  3. Isn't that the plant that smells like cat pee too? We had some sort of a juniper when I was a kid that smelled awful!

  4. Thank you for sharing the neat picture. I would die with all that pollen.