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Do Cottonwood Trees Cause Allergies

Cottonwood Tree Fluff Can Be A Nuisance To Some People

Why Do Cottonwood Trees Produce Cotton | From the Ground Up

Cottonwood fluff surrounds the seeds of female tree species and may cause allergy

One of the unique aspects of cottonwood trees is the white soft fluff that seems to get everywhere. The trees are notorious for fluffy strings of seeds that get carried great distances in the breeze.

For many people, the fluff from cottonwood trees is a nuisance. Some people describe the tree as the most hated tree in America. The light white fluffy fibers can accumulate in yards, get into homes, block drains and gutters, and clog up filters. These poplar trees shed cotton during June and July.

For people with hay fever , cottonwoods white fluff is associated with sneezing, wheezing, and a runny nose. However, it is the pollen from the cottonwood tree that causes the majority of hay fever symptoms. Although, some studies do show that people can suffer from allergic reactions to the cotton.

The Homeowners Guide To Taking Care Of Cottonwood Trees In Denver

by Jon Cook / October 1, 2018 / cottonwood, Tree Maintenance

Denver is home to a myriad of cottonwood trees.

Cottonwood trees are as much a staple of life in Denver as the Broncos, the Platte, and shoveling out of a spring snowstorm. Cottonwood trees are known for their massive trunks, rising canopies to well over 50 feet, even 60 feet in many cases, and releasing their telltale cotton in the form of fruit from female cottonwoods.

Early to mid-June is when cottonwoods tend to release their cotton, making lawns from Aurora to Longmont, Lakewood, and everywhere in between look like a light snow fell. This seasonal release can also be a literal headache for those with allergies. If you have any level of seasonal allergy, youre probably well aware when the cottonwoods are in season.

Cottonwood trees are massive and beautiful to behold. They are known for their stately presence and more than a few families in Denver have fond memories of tire swings, tree forts, and summer days spent in the shade of cottonwoods.

Whether youre new to Denver or a Colorado native with cottonwoods on your property, there are several questions you may have about taking care of your cottonwood trees:

  • Whats the best way to trim a cottonwood tree?
  • What are some of the biggest threats to my cottonwood tree?
  • Will a cottonwood tree take over my property?
  • How do I safely and quickly remove a dead cottonwood tree?

High Pollen Count Doesnt Mean You Are Affected:

Its an excellent approach to keep an eye on the predicted pollen numbers, especially when you intend to go outdoors for an extended period. Hence, if you plan to go outside working around plants or cutting grass, a dust mask can help.

But suppose you pay proper attention to the increase of unusual pollen counts highlighted in the newspaper or on smartphones or TV. In that case, it doesnt significantly mean that you will be affected.

There are many sorts of pollen. However, a high pollen count doesnt always signify an excessive concentration of the specific pollen youre allergic to.

The contrast situation can be valid also: The pollen count might be moderate or comparatively less in number, but you might find yourself around one of the pollens that can trigger your hypersensitivities.

Through testing, it becomes easy to pinpoint which pollens bring on your signs. An allergist can also advise you to find relaxation by determining which medicines will work most desirable for your set of triggers.

Pollen allergy can also cause due to food eating habits. This type of allergy can start from the mouth and then progressively spread across the body parts. Therefore one needs to be careful about their eating habits and what all is ok to consume.

Hence cottonwood allergy or pollen allergies are very soon among adults, old and young people. It also noticed that people who tend to have other types of allergy are prone to cottonwood allergy.

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Do Your Allergies Seem To Bud With The Trees

If youre ready for a cold and snowy winter season to end , theres nothing quite like the thought of spring, budding trees, blooming flowers, the first robin sighting, and hope for warmer days ahead.

But, with budding trees comes the start of hay fever season. Tree pollen is often the first seasonal allergy trigger of the year. Its finer than most pollen and can travel over a thousand miles in the wind!

Everyday tips to reduce your exposure to tree pollen and treating the root cause of your tree pollen allergy with personalized allergy drop immunotherapy can go a long way to help you feel better. Being able to identify trees in your area that may trigger your symptoms can also be helpful.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Tree Pollen Allergies

Achoo! Allergy season blows into northwest Ohio

Trees often release pollen before other plants do. If you experience allergy symptoms early in the spring, you might have a tree pollen allergy. The symptoms of tree pollen allergies include:

  • Sneezing runny or stuffy nose
  • Red, watery, and puffy eyes
  • Itchy nose, ears, eyes, and mouth

To get a definitive diagnosis of tree pollen allergies, youll need to see a doctor. They can make a diagnosis through allergy testing.

Potential tests that doctors can use to determine your allergies include:

  • Skin prick test: For this test, ahealthcare provider places a small amount of tree pollen on your skin, then pricks or scratches the skin through the pollen. If redness, itching, or swelling develops at the site within 20 minutes, youre likely allergic to tree pollen. The severity of your reaction indicates the severity of your allergy.
  • Specific IgE blood test, Radioallergosorbetnt or ImmunoCap:For this test, you’ll need to give a blood sample. In the lab, a small amount of tree pollen is added to your blood, then a lab technician measures the number of allergy antibodies your blood produces to fight the allergen.

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Are There Things That Can Make My Tree Pollen Allergies Worse

Yes! There are certain conditions that can exaggerate or intensify your tree pollen allergies.

Warm, windy days. Wind picks up dry pollen and sends it into the air. When it’s cold, damp or rainy, pollen counts are usually lower.

Certain fruits and vegetables. If you have allergies to certain trees, you have a higher risk of allergic symptoms from cross-reactive foods. For instance, if you’re allergic to birch trees, you may get itchiness or swelling in your mouth or around your face after eating almonds, apples, carrots, celery, cherries, coriander, fennel, hazelnuts, kiwi, peaches, pears, or plums. If you experience allergy symptoms when eating certain foods, youâll want to talk to an allergist to see whatâs causing the symptoms.

Having trigger trees in your yard. How close you live to a tree makes a big difference. When in your own yard, it could expose you to 10 times as much pollen as a tree down the street. If youâre experiencing allergy symptoms to trees in your own yard, you could consider replacing it with one thatâs less likely to cause allergies, like apple, cherry, dogwood, fir, or pine trees.

If youâre interested in learning more about what is triggering your allergy symptoms, visit your local allergy clinic and start immunotherapy. An allergy test will give you the answers you need to find a treatment plan that is right for you. Schedule your appointment today at Aspire Allergy & Sinus with one of our certified allergy specialists.

What Is Tree Pollen

Tree pollen is a powdery substance that trees use to fertilize themselves and other trees. Plants have both female and male reproductive systems. Pollen contains the male reproductive cells . For the tree to be able to reproduce by making fruit or seeds, the pollen needs to come into contact with female tree systems.

In some plants, the connection is made by pollinatorsfor example, flowers and bees. Other plants, like some trees, rely on the wind to be pollinated.

During the spring, many trees release a large amount of pollen. The wind blows the pollen through the air and eventually to other trees of the same species.

If the pollen lands in your eyes, nose, or respiratory system, it can also cause hay fever.

Read Also: How To Tell The Difference Between Allergies And Covid

What Complications Arise From Cottonwood Trees

Spring has come and gone, and so has the invasion of those pesky little white seeds that float around your neighborhood. As you may or may not know, those seeds come from a tree called the cottonwood. And, sad to say, you cant blame their annoyingness on being an invasive species because they are native to Washington state. Even though those seeds are now out of sight, out of mind, their trees still pose a threat.

Cottonwoods are a trouble-making tree for many reasons. They have those irritating seeds that float into every nook and cranny, and sticky buds that fall off everywhere. These buds are troublesome to get off of cars and will stain carpets yellow if tracked inside.

Even though they can practically grow all over the United States and in many environments, cottonwoods are not as resilient as they seem. They are a fast-growing species. In fact, they are the fastest growing trees in North America, growing 6 feet or more in height per year. This puts them at risk for having weaker, more porous wood than other types of trees. They have a propensity to be penetrated by infestations, to rot, and to break more easily. Because their weak wood is more likely than other trees to be diseased, rotten, or bug infested, they are more likely to die, break, and fall. The summer season is especially dangerous as it is a time when cottonwoods are growing too fast for their own good, thus making them more vulnerable to breakage.

Whats The Cotton From Cottonwood Trees

All About Cottonwood Trees: Facts & Uses

Fun fact: cottonwood trees are also dioecious, which means they have male and female flowers on different trees. Male cottonwood trees are not capable of producing the cotton, which is why many neighborhoods that do allow new cottonwood trees restrict planting to only male cottonwood trees.

Female cottonwood trees are pollinated by male cottonwood trees in early spring and they then produce small capsules. These capsules contain small seeds that are carried through the wind because of the cotton found in the capsules. For allergy sufferers, its the male cottonwood trees that are often the cause of heightened allergies in early spring.

It can take a cottonwood seedling many years to fully develop and start producing pollen or pods, depending on whether the tree is male or female. Many of the cottonwood trees in Denver have reached their full maturity and will stop producing as their life-cycle comes to a close.

Common Threats to Cottonwood Trees In Denver

One of the best defenses against cytospora canker in cottonwoods is to remove any diseased, dying, or dead wood at the first opportunity. This is not an easy nor safe process without the proper equipment and care. We highly recommend you contact our team at Fielding Tree & Shrub Care if you have a cottonwood tree suffering from cytospora canker.

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But What Exactly Are These Fluffballs

Quentin Cronk, Professor of Botany at the University of British Columbia, told Vancouver Is Awesome that the fluffy stuff is actually black cottonwood seed the main poplar tree in Vancouver. The tree gets its name from the white hairs on mature seed which float through the air like wisps of cotton or snow.

When asked why the trees produce so much seed, Cronk said that only a tiny fraction will produce new trees, “so the trees need lots of seed to have a chance of replacing themselves.”

And what are the right conditions?

“Damp bare soil in the open,” he explained. “And the seedlings are tiny so many don’t make it.”

Which Cottonwood Makes Cotton


I know some cottonwood trees make cottony fluff and others make pollen. Which is which?GaryAlbuquerque


Male cottonwood trees produce pollen, while the female trees produce the cotton. That cotton is an appendage to help disperse the cottonwood seeds so they do not fall at the base of the mother tree. Since the seed are the potential offspring, they are produced from the mother tree. Because of their pollen, the male varieties of poplar are banned in Albuquerque. The male varieties are banned because of the human allergy problems associated with the pollen from poplars. Some people do not like the cotton from the female trees. While it doesn’t cause allergies, it can clog car radiators, swamp coolers, and swimming pool heaters. This cotton is very flammable, so it can be hazardous near flames.This same relationship is true for the junipers. Male junipers make pollen, which causes allergies, while the females make the berry-like cones . To avoid the allergies, don’t plant the male junipers near your home. Select varieties that produce the berry-like cones.This is all based on the fact that these plants are dioecious. Dioecious is a word that means the male flowers and female flowers are produced on different plants. This is not true of all plants. Most plants have both male and female parts in a single flower , and a few have separate flowers on the same plant .

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Things You Can Do To Avoid A Problem

  • Plan your landscape: Minimize exposure to known allergens by not planting and eliminating certain allergy-causing trees from your property.
  • Plan your time outside: In order to minimize exposure, plan outdoor activities to coincide with times when the pollen count is lowest.
  • Keep up with the pollen count: Follow the local pollen index that will alert you to days when your particular allergens are most prominent.
  • Allergy skin testing: Using the scratch or blood test for allergies can help you determine what type of pollen allergies you have.

Other Interesting Cottonwood Tree Facts

River Bliss: The Story of Patrick Cottonwood

The fast growth rate of cottonwood trees and the strength of the timber means it has many uses. In fact, cottonwoods are one of the fastest-growing trees in North America. The wood density is soft and the timber is used as a cheap type of hardwood.

The name cottonwood comes from the fluffy white substance that surrounds the seeds. These develop on the tree in early summer and can create a blanket of summer snow when they disperse in the wind. Only the female species of cottonwood trees produce the white fluff for which the tree is known.

To Native Americans, the tree was extremely important. The gently spreading shape of the tree provided shade in grasslands. Even today, cottonwoods are grown in parks and other areas for the excellent shade from their dense foliage.

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What Are The Different Home Remedies One Can Use To Treat Cottonwood Allergy

Several home remedies can soothe and prevent the person from getting allergic to pollen grains. Few home remedies include:

  • Drinking immunity-building drinks.
  • Keeping you clean all day.
  • Sanitize your hands properly so that pollen doesnt reach your nose. Hands.
  • Use house filters for air purification of house.
  • Wear a mask always while traveling outside.
  • Intake herbal teas and capsules to make your body internally strong and more immune.
  • Does Cottonwood Fluff Cause Allergies Too

    Cotton fluff looks very beautiful but can contribute to making allergic reactions worst. Thus as per doctors, it is said that male cotton mainly contributes to causing allergic reactions among humans.

    Therefore, it is highly suggested that people take care of the pollen counts to avoid getting affected during the fall season.

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    Things That Make It Worse

    1. Warm, windy days. Wind picks up dry pollen and sends it into the air. When it’s cold or damp, pollen counts are usually lower.

    2. Certain fruits and vegetables. If you have nasal allergies to certain trees, you have a higher risk of allergic symptoms from some of these foods. For instance, if you’re allergic to birch trees, you may get itchiness or swelling in your mouth or around your face after eating almonds, apples, carrots, celery, cherries, coriander, fennel, hazelnuts, kiwi, peaches, pears, or plums.

    3. Having trigger trees in your yard. How close you live to a tree makes a big difference. When one’s in your own yard, it could expose you to 10 times as much pollen as a tree down the street.

    How Long Do Tree Pollen Allergies Last

    WeatherMinds: Is cottonwood pollen really worse this year?

    Tree pollen allergies can last throughout the pollen season, which peaks in the spring. However, people with severe tree pollen allergies can also experience symptoms from eating foods that have been exposed to pollen, like apples and other fruits.

    If your allergies are persistent, talk to your doctor about ways you can manage your symptoms more effectively.

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    Tree Pollen Allergy Symptoms And Types

    Tree pollen is generally the first seasonal allergen of the year that can cause your symptoms to emerge usually around spring when most plants begin to flower.

    In some places, trees can start releasing their pollen as early as January, with the spread lasting until June.

    Trees produce light, dry pollen that can be carried by the wind for miles. So even if you live in a built-up city, it can still blow your way and trigger an allergic reaction.

    Learn about tree pollen allergies, how to lower the chances of a reaction, which trees to be aware of, and useful ways you can try to relieve or reduce your symptoms.


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