Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

Posts tagged ‘allergenic plants’


Yay its spring! Boo its hay fever season!

Being what my dear partner refers to as a ‘red headed asthma kid’ I’ve always been a bit on the allergic side. Nothing serious mind, but at certain times of the year I’ll make sure I’ve always got some hay fever tablets on hand. Sadly this year our daughter, who has up until now not been bothered by hay fever at all, is having a dreadful time of it.

Is this rye grass? I think so...but I really can't tell for sure!

The weather bureau did warn us that the wettest winter and spring for many a year would lead to a bad year for hay fever, and they certainly didn’t lie.

The problem is knowing just what it is that is causing the problem for her and finding our if there is anything at all that can be done to reduce exposure to it or to treat it.  Some plants are just so pervasive in the environment that there is no escaping them. Try getting away from grass going to seed in spring and summer for example. And of course it might not be pollen that is causing the allergy, but it is a very likely suspect right now.

On top of that some allergenic plants are not what you expect. I think I’ve mentioned before that Wattles (acacias) get a largely undeserved bad rap on the list of allergy suspects in Australia, but have largely been cleared. There is a lovely newsletter article from the Australian Plant Society here defending the much maligned wattle.

According to the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology, it is in fact the following plants that are known to most commonly cause allergic reactions in the Australian environment:

Annual Blue/Winter Grass, She Oak, Bahia Grass, Couch Grass (Bermuda grass), Bottlebrush (callistemon), Canary Grass, Cocksfoot/Orchard Grass, English Oak, Johnson Grass, Kentucky Blue/June Grass, London Plane Tree, Mango Tree, Murray Pine/ White Cypress Pine, Olive Tree, Paper-bark Tea Tree, Parthenium Weed, Paterson’s curse/Salvation Jane, Pellitory/Asthma weed, Plantain, Ragweed, Ryegrass, Silver birch, Timothy Grass, Wild Oat, Yorkshire Fog/Velvet Grass.

More detail from ASCI can be found here.

Callistemon. Friend or foe??

The plants I’ve highlighted in bold are ones I either have on our property, or can see if I peek over the fence. And they are the ones I can identify,or at least think I can. I have to admit I am particularly poor at identifying grasses, which is a shame, as they are a very common cause of allergy.

Rye grass is one that has been mentioned in several places, including this recent article from The Age newspaper as one of our major allergy causing problem plants. but I’m not sure I am correctly identifying it. I’ve been looking up images of it, but is still looks like well grass to me.

Some on the list really surprise me. Callistemon is one that I’ve never heard anyone talk about in the context of allergies and I’m a tiny bit suspicious of its inclusion. The Asthma Foundation tends to suggest that predominantly insect pollinated plants are generally a lot less of a problem then wind-pollinated plants.

The catkins of my silver birch are not mature 'not guilty' your honour!

I’ve heard of Silver Birch as a problem before, but for some reason I still feel inclined to look for a poor old wattle to blame rather than the three birch trees in my back yard.

On the other hand...the river birch is more advanced.

So, what (if anything) sets people to sneezing in your area when that time of year comes around?

See you next time,