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Mountain cedar pollen season is here

11 Dec 2021

Keep the Flonase handy and wear the neck gaiter. The pollen from Ashe Juniper—popularly called mountain cedar is back making things miserable for allergy sufferers. Higher levels usually occur during the earlier weeks of January.

Juniper Ash trees at the Loop 1604 trailhead of the Salado Creek Greenway
Juniper Ash trees at the Loop 1604 trailhead of the Salado Creek Greenway—Photo: SRR

Pollen.com, the website that tracks pollen in the United States, had reported the midsection of Texas as one of the worst areas for pollen. The organization based its pollen index by grains of pollen per cubic meter over a 24-hour period. They use a device called the Rotorod® Sampler to calculate pollen counts. To view latest updates, visit https://www.pollen.com (San Antonio).

The culprit is Ashe Juniper, also known as the misnomer mountain cedar, a drought-tolerant evergreen tree with the scientific name of Juniperus Ashei. This tree is found mostly in south-central Texas and parts of northwest and north-central Arkansas.

The region was settled mostly by the Spanish settlers of New Spain during the mid-1700s when they built missions using Ashe Junipers for roof beams. By the mid-1800s, Germans moved into the area and used the Ashe Juniper for various building materials.

Close up view of the Juniper Ashe that shows its coursed, cypress-like bark
Close up view of the Juniper Ashe that shows its coursed, cypress-like bark—Photo: SRR

Ashe Juniper is part of the cypress family (Cupressaceae). Like its cousin Taxodium Ascendens, popularly known as "cypress," it serves as desirable lumber because it is rot resistant. Likewise to their Texas counterparts, Louisiana homebuilders have used cypress.

Even though the plant is abundant in Texas, it is also found in Arkansas that includes the cities of Eureka Springs, Berryville, and Bull Shoals. This makes wintertime hard on those who are allergic to Ashe Juniper pollen. Symptoms include itchy or watery eyes, excessive coughing and wheezing, runny nose, sore or scratchy throat, nasal congestion, and sneezing. It sends a slew of folks to doctors—urgent care clinics are busy in these Texas and Arkansas regions this time of year.

—SRR News Services

Original issue: 3 Dec 2020, 13 Jan 2021

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