Cedar fever season is upon us, that time of year when we want to hermetically seal ourselves in a bubble with only a taco-dispensing tube to connect us to the pollen-laden outside world.
Not that it deserves accuracy or any sort of reverence, but here are a few things you may not know about this plague of pollen, all ready for you to dish out at cocktails parties through stuffed noses and itchy eyes. Get to know thy enemy, and you may just make it out of cedar season alive.
And no, you will not look this cute.
10. Cedar fever isn’t brought on by cedar trees
The source is actually the Ashe juniper tree (Juniperus ashei). The confusion probably comes from it often being called a Mountain Cedar tree. Unfortunately, this isn’t the sort of juniper that can be converted into the magical elixir that is gin, making it even more disappointing.
9. “Cedar” isn’t the only misnomer in this descriptor
There’s no actual fever involved with the allergic reaction to the Ashe juniper. Basically, this is the most inaccurately named affliction, ever. Never fear, though, there are plenty of other cedar fever symptoms to keep you reveling in your misery. According to Hill Country Allergy & Asthma, symptoms can include “an itchy, runny nose, sneezing, nasal blockage, excess tearing and itchy eyes, also known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Others complain of itching of the mouth, throat, or ears, and post–nasal drainage. Others experience fatigue, mild headache, facial discomfort, sore throat, partial loss of sense of smell, and sensation of ear plugging. If these symptoms persist they can eventually lead to infections of the sinuses, and can even make eczema and/or asthma worsen.” Hooray!
Yep, this is exactly what it feels like.
8. The trees are basically having sex in your face
Since all this pollen business is really about reproduction, let’s talk about that for a second…The plants are a dioecious species, meaning their male and female reproductive structures are on separate plants. And, you guessed it, that’s the males business flying all around in the wind, looking for seeds to pollinate. Think about that the next time your nose is all full of the yellow stuff.
…in your nostrils.
7. Austin has way too many of these things
Central Texas has the unique distinction of having the highest concentration of the tree in the country-its range spreads from southern Missouri to northeastern Mexico. We’re just really, really lucky.
Seriously. Soooo lucky.
6. There is an upside to your misery
Even though it makes us terribly miserable, the Ashe juniper provides a lot of benefits to Central Texas, including erosion control, wildlife habitat, and it makes great raw materials for fence posts because it’s rot resistant. Not that we don’t all just love fence posts, but more compellingly, that adorable, endangered Golden Cheeked Warbler seems to have an irrational attachment to juniper and oak trees, however, making them critical to the survival of this species.
Allergy sufferers don’t want him to win.
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