10 Plants That Can Cause Allergies

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Lawn & Garden

Allergies can be a real pain. Get healthy tips with pictures for staying healthy.

If you’re sneezing, it’s probably due to allergy season. Those unlucky enough to suffer from allergies are plagued by itchy eyes, runny nose, and a general feeling of misery. Allergies are generally a genetic predisposition, where those with parents who have allergies are more likely to develop them. Allergies result from a hypersensitive immune system that attacks substances it identifies as harmful, which leads to symptoms.

Allergic reactions to plants are caused by airborne pollen. Certain plants are more likely to trigger hay fever. Check out the 10 worst offenders below.

10: Ragweed

Ragweed may be the most allergenic plant out there, with 75% of people with pollen allergies being allergic to it. To make matters worse, the plant is extremely common, with 17 types of ragweed in North America. Ragweed releases large amounts of pollen into the air. To avoid ragweed, head to New England or the West Coast if you live in the United States.

Ragweed facts:

  • Appearance: It grows no more than 2 feet high, with pointy leaves and clusters of greenish-yellow blooms. The flowers open downward to release pollen into the wind.
  • Peak time: It pollinates in summer and fall.
  • Location: You’ll find it growing along roadsides, in fields, along riverbanks, in vacant lots, and in rural areas. It likes to grow where soil is disturbed — by water streams, salting of roads or cultivation. It’s easily overgrown by other plants, but if it finds disturbed soil, it will take root and thrive.

9: Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is popular for golf greens, parks, and yards.

Bermuda grass is native to Africa but is now established in most parts of the world. In the United States, it’s called Bermuda grass because it’s believed to have been brought to the country from Bermuda. Bermuda grass is popular for lawns and golf greens because it’s resistant to foot traffic. It spreads by both root and seed, and its flowering seed causes allergies. If you keep your Bermuda grass very closely mown, it’s less allergenic.

Bermuda grass facts:

  • Appearance: Bermuda grass has short bluish-green leaves. The leaves turn brown during cold weather, as the grass is more of a warm weather plant. Its flowering stems can grow to more than a foot tall, but it’s usually shorter, with 4- to 6-inch long seedheads.
  • Peak time: Bermuda grass flowers from spring through October.
  • Location: You’ll find Bermuda grass just about anywhere. Like we said earlier, it’s a favorite for golf greens, lawns, and pastures.

8: Maple

The ashleaf maple or box elder tree — also known as the maple tree — is another plant that produces potent allergens. Other species of maple, like the red, silver, and sugar varieties, also trigger allergies. But the ashleaf maple is the worst offender. Only the male trees produce the pollen allergen. These trees favor a lot of light and rich, moist soil. Maples are popular for their timber, sugar, and syrup.

Maple facts:

Ashleaf maples are small or medium-sized trees that typically grow to be around 30 to 50 feet tall and have a trunk diameter of about 4 feet. The blooms of these trees are greenish-yellow, grow in small bunches, and have no petals. Maple trees release pollen in the early spring. They are commonly found along streams and in the woods of Eastern United States and Canada, as well as midwestern North America.

The mountain cedar, a type of juniper tree, is common in the hills of Texas, Oklahoma mountains, and parts of the Ozarks. It spreads a lot of pollen and is known to spread aggressively. Due to its large pollen production, the tree prevents many people from enjoying outdoor activities. Mountain cedars usually flower in winter, and can be found in Arkansas, Missouri, some parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Rye grass is a popular choice for lawns and is found in pastures, meadows, and on roadsides. It releases pollen when it flowers and is prone to mold. The grass grows in bunches, with flat or slightly rolled leaf blades, and can be up to 10 inches long. Rye grass flowers in the summertime and is commonly found in the northern United States.

Elm trees are widespread throughout the United States and are valued for their wood and shade. The tree produces flowers and fruit, which release pollen into the air. Happily, the tree has made a comeback after a fungus called Dutch elm disease caused about 100 million elm trees to die between 1930 and 1980. Elm trees prefer moist areas and can be found growing along rivers.

5 Most Common Trees and Weeds in the United States

  • Elm: Elms have a vase-shaped appearance with weeping branches and pointed leaves. They flower in early spring and can be found throughout the eastern and midwestern United States.
  • Mulberry: Mulberry trees were imported from China as a source of food for silkworms. They have shiny, lobed leaves and produce pink to dark red fruit. Mulberry trees are found in woods and river valleys in the eastern and western United States.
  • Pecan: Pecan trees are highly prized for their timber and nuts, with more than 250 million pounds of pecans produced in the southern United States each year. They can grow up to 200 feet tall and are found in Georgia, Texas, and other southeastern states, as well as Indiana and Ohio.
  • Pigweed: Pigweed is an aggressive weed that reproduces by seed and can be found in various environments, including landscapes, roadsides, and pastures. There are over 500 species of pigweed.

Pigweed is a plant that can grow up to 6 feet tall with green flowers that have bristles and are clustered along the sides and top. The common redroot pigweed has a reddish color at the taproot. It blooms and releases its pollen from spring to fall and is commonly found in the northern and western United States.

1: Oak

Oak trees are known to aggravate allergies during the springtime as they have small grains of pollen that are airborne and can cause allergies to flare up. There are over 600 species of oak trees in the world, and they come in all sizes. Oaks bear fruit called acorns, which take up to a year and a half to mature. They are highly valued for their lumber and are commonly found in the woods of the Atlantic coastal plain, from Texas to Virginia, as well as Florida.

Some oak tree facts are:

  • Appearance: Oak trees are large, rounded trees with green (sometimes bluish) leaves that have rounded lobes. The flowers are called catkins and are responsible for releasing vast amounts of pollen.
  • Peak time: Oaks flower in the spring.
  • Location: Oaks are commonly found in the woods and are prevalent in the Atlantic coastal plain, from Texas to Virginia, as well as Florida.

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  • Beach, Steve. “How Allergies Work.” HowStuffWorks.com. April 1, 2000. (April 17, 2011) https://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/allergies/allergy.htm
  • “Common Pigweed (weed).” All Allergy. 1998. (April 17, 2011) http://www.allallergy.net/fapaidfind.cfm?cdeoc=408
  • Martinez, Santiago. “Plants That Cause Allergies.” AllergyChannel.com. 2010. (April 12, 2011) http://www.smartinez.net/allergies_plant.shtml#plant_allergies
  • “Pecan Tree/Hickory Tree.” All Allergy. 1998. (April 17, 2011) http://www.allallergy.net/fapaidfind.cfm?cdeoc=1150
  • “Ragweed Allergy.” Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. 2005. (April 17, 2011) http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=19&cont=267
  • “What is Pollen?” AchooAllergy.com. 2011. (April 12, 2011) http://www.achooallergy.com/about-pollen.asp
  • “Why Call Cedar a Plague?” PeopleAgainstCedars.com. 2011. (April 17, 2011) http://www.peopleagainstcedars.com/html/cedar__the_plague_of_trees.html


1. What are the 10 worst plants for allergies?

The 10 worst plants for allergies include ragweed, pollen, oak, birch, grass, nettle, sagebrush, cedar, mugwort, and goldenrod. These plants produce high levels of pollen, which can trigger allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to them.

2. What are the symptoms of allergies caused by plants?

The symptoms of allergies caused by plants include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, scratchy throat, coughing, and wheezing. In severe cases, allergies can cause asthma attacks, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis.

3. What can I do to prevent allergies caused by plants?

You can prevent allergies caused by plants by avoiding exposure to them. Keep your windows closed during high pollen seasons, use air conditioning instead of fans, and wear a mask when doing yard work. You can also take antihistamines or allergy shots to reduce your symptoms.

4. Can I still enjoy gardening if I have allergies?

Yes, you can still enjoy gardening if you have allergies. Choose plants that are less likely to trigger allergic reactions, such as geraniums, petunias, and impatiens. Wear gloves, long sleeves, and a mask when gardening, and avoid touching your face or eyes.

5. Are there any natural remedies for allergies caused by plants?

Yes, there are several natural remedies for allergies caused by plants. These include using a saline nasal rinse, drinking herbal teas like chamomile and peppermint, and taking supplements like vitamin C and quercetin. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before trying any new remedies.

6. Can indoor plants cause allergies?

Yes, indoor plants can cause allergies. Some common indoor plants that can trigger allergic reactions include ficus, weeping fig, peace lily, and spider plant. If you have allergies, it’s best to choose plants that are less likely to cause reactions, and to keep your home well-ventilated.

7. Can allergies caused by plants be life-threatening?

In rare cases, allergies caused by plants can be life-threatening. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and throat, and a drop in blood pressure. If you experience these symptoms after exposure to a plant, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

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