Very first thing to find out about mountain cedar: they technically aren’t cedar timber in any respect.
What we name “cedar timber” are a kind of juniper tree — particularly Ashe juniper — named after William Willard Ashe (1872-1932), who was a pioneer forester for the USA Forest Service.
True cedar timber reside close to the Mediterranean Sea, round Europe and northern Africa. Nonetheless, juniper timber right here in Texas do bear no less than some resemblance to cedar timber.
“So a number of the explorers, after they have been first coming to the western United States, encountering these timber, they simply referred to them as cedars due to that resemblance,” says Karl Flocke — a woodland ecologist with Texas A&M Forest Service.
BOOKMARK: Reside, native pollen depend
The place do mountain cedar timber reside?
Cedar resides all through Texas, even up west of Fort Value, stretching into elements of Oklahoma and Arkansas.
However a dense cedar forest exists within the Texas Hill Nation. Karle Flocke says that is, “as a result of they actually thrive on limestone soils, hilly environments, areas that don’t have very deep soil in any respect.”
The Hill Nation is dwelling to greater than 35 million tons of cedar (juniper) timber, in response to the Texas A&M Forest Service, which measures timber by weight.
It’s on this a part of Texas — round San Antonio, Austin, and all through the Hill Nation — the place we actually really feel the impacts from cedar pollen.
Do you know that there are female and male mountain cedar timber?
The feminine cedar timber, that are solely distinguishable by their juniper berries, produce no pollen or allergy symptoms in any respect… that’s the job of male timber!
From December by means of mid-February, tiny cones on the male cedar timber produce pollen. As soon as these cones open, exposing the pollen, the grains are then carried by the wind to the ready feminine timber. And, sadly, into our eyes and sinuses as properly.
In response to Shannon Syring — who’s a Licensed Pollen Collector that has been offering KSAT with the pollen depend for years — a typical mountain cedar season peaks at 20,000 to 32,000 grains per cubic meter of air. That’s roughly a 3-foot by 3-foot house.
Allergist Dr. Dennis Dilley says all that pollen within the air makes for “itchy eyes, watery eyes, sneezing matches, adopted by simply copious quantities of mucus.”
With “cedar fever” impacting many individuals yearly, it’s no surprise that some develop to hate mountain cedar and its dreaded pollen.
Maybe it’s that dread that’s helped encourage myths concerning the tree. So, let’s do some myth-busting!
Fantasy #1: Cedar timber are invasive
That is false. Mountain cedar timber are native to Central Texas.
In response to Mark Hen, Metropolis Arborist for the Metropolis of San Antonio, “we’ve geological proof of them being right here for a really very long time.”
Previously, folks across the Hill Nation have used cedar wooden as a pure useful resource, constructing fences and different infrastructure.
Hen says, “if you happen to take a look at among the outdated pier and beam homes, you’ll be able to nonetheless see the cedar posts which can be supporting these homes.”
That being stated, poor land administration prior to now 70 years or so has led to a normal enhance in all timber throughout the Hill Nation, together with each oaks and junipers.
Nonetheless, if you happen to clear land, Ashe junipers are sometimes the primary timber to regrow.
So it’s the fast regrowth of cedars that has result in the assumption that the tree is invasive. However once you break it down, mountain cedar is undoubtedly native to Central Texas.
Fantasy #2: Mountain cedar timber worsen the drought
This delusion comes from the assumption that cedar timber use extra water than different timber throughout the Hill Nation.
However, in response to Mark Hen, “it’s not true that they take up any extra water than any of the opposite valued timber in our space, like an oak tree.”
It’s true, nonetheless, that the needles or leaves of a mountain cedar tree do entice some rain, particularly when the timber are packed collectively. So a dense forest of mountain cedar timber could forestall mild precipitation quantities from reaching the soil.
However throughout wholesome rain occasions, closely forested mountain cedar can really direct rainwater into the Edwards Aquifer.
Karl Flocke says that “having that dense layer of needles on the bottom can actually assist to retain water on the bottom, soak in and infiltrate, versus working into creeks and rivers the place it would simply go away as flood water.”
Fantasy #3: You may construct up immunity to mountain cedar allergy symptoms
We’re solely uncovered to mountain cedar pollen for a couple of weeks annually. That’s not sufficient time for our our bodies to get used to the pesky pollen — even if you happen to’ve lived right here for a very long time.
In response to Dr. Dilley, an Allergist at Dilley Allergy and Bronchial asthma Specialists, “folks don’t naturally develop immunity to cedar. When you’re allergic, you’re allergic.”
This all has to do with our DNA — we’re genetically predisposed to our personal set of allergy symptoms.
So, sadly, we’re left to take care of a mountain cedar allergy 12 months after 12 months.
Some folks swear by pure allergy drops or perhaps a tea constituted of the feminine mountain cedar juniper berries. Whereas there isn’t a exhausting proof that these pure cures work, Dr. Dilley says, “if it makes you are feeling higher, that’s okay, too. There’s no hurt in doing these issues.”
The commonest and efficient therapy for seasonal allergy symptoms is over-the-counter drugs.
Nonetheless, if you happen to’re taking these drugs and nonetheless discover it troublesome to perform, Dr. Dilley suggests seeing an allergist immediately — who can present steroids to alleviate extreme signs.
Medical doctors may also administer the one confirmed, long-term solution to cut back a extreme allergic response: allergy pictures.
These pictures work by desensitizing your immune system. Via the pictures, a steadily growing quantity of pollen is launched to the physique, making a blocking response.
The excellent news? Allergy pictures are lined by most insurance coverage suppliers. Nonetheless, it’s endorsed that you just meet your deductible earlier than getting the pictures.
Fantasy #4: Slicing down timber will remove allergy symptoms
Within the metropolis of San Antonio, it’s authorized to take away cedar timber out of your property — and you might need to for varied causes. Perhaps you’d solely moderately have oaks in your property. Perhaps you simply don’t just like the appears to be like of the cedars.
However if you happen to suppose the few cedars in your property are inflicting your allergy points, do not forget that there are nonetheless hundreds of timber within the Hill Nation. If a chilly entrance kicks up the winds from the north within the wintertime, that pollen continues to be going to be a difficulty.
So, love them or hate them, we’ve bought to study to reside with Texas’ most-hated and I might argue — most misunderstood — tree.
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