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Northern New Mexico Pollen Counts

What is pollen?

Pollen is defined as “The fertilizing element of flowering plants, consisting of fine, powdery, yellowish grains or spores (“Pollen” 2009). Pollen is necessary to pollinate the ovary of a plant to make seeds. It is also collected by some insects as food for their offspring. Pollen is produced in the male organs of the flowers and pollination occurs when pollen is transferred from the reproductive organs of the male flower to the female organs by wind or animal. Pollen has many impacts on human health and nature. Each pollen grain carried by the wind or animal delivers many nutrients upon its arrival and can have a negative effect on human health in many ways. Many people experience allergic reactions to pollen, and the affects of pollen can be an extreme irritant.

Juniper (Family: Cuipressaceae; Genus: Juniperus)

Juniper is part of the family Cupressaceous. The two common species of Juniper in the area are the Rocky Mountain Juniper and the one-seed Juniper. The Rocky Mountain Juniper: Dark green, smooth weepy branches. This tree has two pollination seasons in the year January through April and from September through December.

The one-seed Juniper: Light green, coarse closely set branches. It is called the One-seed juniper due to the fact that the berries on the tree contain one seed inside unlike others that carry 2-3 seeds per berry.

Elm (Genus Ulmus)

Any of about 18 species of forest and ornamental shade trees that make up the genus Ulmus. Native mostly to northern temperate areas and many are grown for their height and attractive foliage. The leaves are doubly toothed and often lopsided at the base. Elm pollen is produced from January through April and some species of the elm tree also flower in the fall.



Oak (Family: Fagaceae; Genus: Quercus)

An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus. Oaks have spirally arranged leaves, with a lobed margin in many species; some have serrated leaves or entire leaves with a smooth margin. The flowers are catkins, produced in spring. The fruit is the acorn. They are hardy and long-lived shade trees.

Grass (Family: Poaceae)

A large and widespread family of plants, the 7 Poaceae, characterized by usually hollow stems, sheath-forming leaves in two longitudinal rows. Plant communities dominated by Poaceae are called grasslands; it is estimated that grasslands comprise 20% of the vegetation cover of the earth. Grass pollen is produced from May through October.

Ash (Family: Oleaceae; Genus Fraxinus)

Together with the Privets, Olives, Lilacs, and a few other genera, the Ashes form the small order Oleacea, a group of trees and shrubs with their leaves in opposite pairs. This tree is apart of the genus Fraxinus which contains 45-65 species. Ash pollen is produced from March through June. Ash pollen has from three to six furrows and is relatively small at 18 to 28 µm.

Mulberry (Family: Moraceae; Genus: Morus)

The Mulberry tree is a very curious and unique tree. Mulberry fruit is similar in appearance to an elongated blackberry or raspberry and have a sweet flavor. The season for Mulberry tree pollination is April and May of each year. Morus pollen is primarily from the fruitless white mulberry tree. The pollen is small at 15 to 25 µm and is distinct with two protruding pores. The shape is likened to a lemon or football.

Ragweed (Ambrosia; Family: Asteracea)

Any of various weeds of the genus Ambrosia having small, greenish, unisexual flower heads and producing abundant pollen. Common ragweed is found across North America. Pollen is shed by ragweeds in great abundance in late summer (August thru October).

Aspen (Family: Salicaceae; Genus: Populus)

Known for its bright yellow fall colors, the aspen tree is one of the most popular trees in North America. Both male and female aspen trees bloom in March and April. Aspen flowers grow in clusters, also known as catkins. However, while the male catkins produce pollen, the female catkins do not. Once the pollen from male aspen trees pollinate female catkins, they release tiny seeds that are blown away by the wind, carried by small tufts of hair. Both male and female aspen trees grow to a similar height, but size varies depending on the type of aspen tree.

Cottonwood (Family: Salicaceae; Genus: Populus)

Cottonwoods and other true species of cottonwoods are majestic and magnificent trees, especially when they are allowed to reach their full, unrestricted growth potential. Cottonwood trees are dioecious, which means they have male and female flowers on separate trees. The pollen in male flowers is ripe in late March and into April. Wind borne tree pollen, including cottonwood pollen is a major source of allergy problems for many people.

Weeds (Genus: Amaranth; Family: Amaranthaceae)

Known as a cosmopolitan genus of herbs or pigweeds/tumbleweeds. Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to gold. Amaranthus shows a wide variety of morphological diversity among and even within certain species. Although the family is distinctive, the genus has few distinguishing characters among the 70 species included. This complicates taxonomy and Amaranthus has generally been considered among systematists as a “difficult” genus.

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