Pollen causes immunoglobulin E antibody production in the human body. These antibodies cause mucous production and encourage sneezing and watery eyes in individuals who are sensitive to the pollen. Fifty million Americans suffer from allergies related to annual pollen production.
Pollen is the male sperm cell of a plant encased in a capsule that is light enough for the wind to transport it to a female plant.
Most trees release their pollen in the early spring, whereas grasses release pollen in the late spring and early summer. Weeds, like ragweed, release pollen in the late summer and early fall.
Pollen not only floats in the wind currents, but attaches itself to insects like bees. The hairy legs pick up the pollen on the flower as the bee extracts the nectar from the flower. When the bee lands on a female flower, some of the pollen rubs off and fertilizes the plant.
Plant pollen exists in a variety of colors. Yellow is the most common, but brown, white, purple and red pollen also exists in nature.
In order to help warn those allergic to pollen about the seasonal concentrations, scientists sample pollen concentrations with a tool called a Rotorod sampler. The sampler has silicon grease on the end that catches the airborne pollen. Concentrations are analyzed and reports are released.
- Photo Credit André Karwath/Wikipedia.org, Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility/Wikipedia.org, Jon Sullivan/Wikipedia.org
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