Friday, March 29, 2013

Central Park Allergens: Tree Pollen

Millions of tourists visit Central Park each year to see the sights, but for local New Yorkers Central Park is considered one of the top places to escape the hustle bustle of the city. Central Park is an oasis in the concrete jungle, a place to recharge from our crazy lives, a place to BREATH! 

However, as springtime comes, some of us find it hard to breath in Central Park, as the trees, weeds and flowers begin to bloom.

Central Park is the flor and fauna capital of Manhattan, and many allergy sufferers become conflicted between the beauty of her nature and the effect it has on our allergies. 

As a New York City Adult and Pediatric Allergy and Asthma practice, we want to help our fellow New Yorkers identify some of the common Central Park trees and plants that can be tough on allergies.

Oak Trees: Few trees are as “strong as an oak” and this strength is carried throughout their pollen. There are approximately 600 different species of oak across planet earth and there are about 5 different species that live in Central Park.  To pollinate, oak trees produce catkins, which are slender dense clusters of petal-less flowers. These catkins develop prior to the leaves, and aid in the pollination process, but they make a mess as they float about the air. You can find some gigantic Spanish Oak and Northern Red Oak near the Great Lawn.

Cypress Trees: These beautiful trees have been causing humans allergies since before Central Park, and even the ancients Greeks had allergies to the Mediterranean Cypress Trees.  Cypress pollens can cause a “green pollution” when their pollen is released, and this could be the stuff you see floating atop the Harlem Meer. Two types of Cypress in Central Park are the Common Bald Cypress and Swamp Cypress.

Maple Trees: While maple trees are the source of delicious maple syrup, they are also the parents of some of the most allergenic pollen. These pollens regularly trigger asthma so if you are asthmatic, it is wise to keep your distance.  There are some beautiful Red Maples in Central Park, especially near the Mall At Bandshell.

Grass: No list would be complete without mentioning one of the most commonly known allergy-inducing culprits, grass. There are many types of grasses in Central Park and they can all have different affects on people. When in the park, it is normal to sit and play in the grass and this direct skin contact allows for the blades and their microscopic barbs to irritate your skin. This is a tough one to avoid, but wearing long sleeves can prevent direct contact, and a quick shower can also help relieve the itching.

If you find your self itching and sneezing when you walk through the park, chances are that you have allergies to one of the many trees found in Central Park. If you want to know for certain, schedule an allergy test and lets get to the root of it!

To find out more about the different trees in Central Park, click here