Bill Williams wewilliams at OSPREY.SMCM.EDU
Tue Nov 3 12:27:30 EST 1998

>I just made up this statement.  Is it true?  If true, can it be improved?
>I'm shooting for an intro botany course.
>"Pollen from wind-pollinated angiosperms is a major cause of allergies
>because wind is a non-specific pollinator and therefore the specificity of
>pollen/stigma interaction is carried by protienaceous "recognition factors"
>on the surface of the pollen grain.  These factors cause an allergic
>reaction when they come into contact with human mucus membranes in the nose
>and eyes."
Hmmm... it's obviously true (I know from extensive personal experience!)
but I'll be darned if I know of a good source for verification.  You might
want to mention that grasses are usually implicated in spring hay-fever
while ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) is generally the only recognized
fall allergen (or at least so said my allergist).  Also, students often see
the huge blankets of pine pollen that covers lakes and ponds (and cars) in
the spring around here (southern Maryland) and jump to the conclusion that
it's causing their hay fever, but I understand that pine pollen is very
seldom allergenic (the urban legend is that its lack of exines makes it
less intrusive but again I have no evidence).


William E. Williams
Biology Department, St. Mary's College of Maryland
St. Mary's City, MD 20686 USA
WEWilliams at

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