What are good plants for allergy sufferers?


by William E. Miller, M.D.

If you or someone in your family has allergies it is desirable for the vegetation around your home to have as low a potential for allergic sensitization as possible. Since most pollens are light and may blow many miles this will not totally solved the problem. However, pollens are the light…the further you are from the source, the less you get! Therefore it is worthwhile to use plants with low potential for sensitization when planting vegetation around the home.

Not all plants that will grow in Arizona have been evaluated from the standpoint of their allergic potential. There is some disagreement among allergists as to which plants are best. A good general rule to follow in evaluating a plant is that if it has an attractive flower, it is probably an insect-pollinated plant. Pollen on insect-pollinated plants is heavy and sticky, and not likely to blow around since it is designed to stick to bees, butterflies, and the like. In contrast, if the flower is small, inconspicuous, or seemingly nonexistent, you probably have a wind-pollinated plant. Since wind pollination is very inefficient, these plants must produce large quantities of small and light pollen to be effective. These, then, are the plants most likely to cause allergies, since their pollens are present in the air in large quantities and are readily inhaled.

Some plants are mixed wind and insect pollinated—palo verde is an example. The pollens of plants such as fruit trees and citrus do no cause allergies, but the strong, sweet odor of their flowers may bother allergic individuals. Below are some plants that do well below 3,500 feet and are generally accepted as having low potential for bothering allergy prone individuals.

Posted in: Plants & Landscaping

Allergy and the Environment