Hay Fever…a gender problem?

My Fellow Inebriates,

When new booze fails to enter the house for an unreasonable length of time, I start looking up at the medicine cabinet and wondering if there’s anything interesting there. Of course it’s just full of the usual crap—kids’ cold/cough medicine, vitamins, whimsically purchased supplements. You can’t even see the back of the cupboard for all the mess in there. And what’s with my parents? No goodies in there…no Ambien or Atavan—nothing to make my day more bright.

Stupid Nasonex bee

The newest arrival is Nasonex, prescribed for the hay fever that has attacked every year since we moved to Langley, an outlying suburb of Vancouver that used to be mostly farmland and acreages but has in the last decade gone nuts with development. Land has been razed for townhouse complexes and surrounding infrastructure (typically lagging—for instance, there are no sidewalks in places, and we could use a school or two to teach the little ones growing up in this Bible Belt that the universe is more than 6,000 years old).

You’d think putting urban-style housing where plants used to be would decrease allergens, but the exact opposite is true. Compared to traditional forests and fields, developers’ tidily planted rows of trees assail people with pollen, producing violent allergies and even inducing asthma.

What the hell? I thought nature, with its forests and valleys, was the biggest pollen-producing culprit. But wouldn’t you know it—our insane pollen count is a product of urban development.

And it all comes down to economics—the economics of tree planting and maintenance. If you’re the sort of building developer who has no qualms about shorting your townhouse complexes on insulation while fitting them with toilets too finicky to digest the family’s solid offerings, then obviously you’ll plant the gardens and surrounding green space with the cheapest greenery possible. And that’s where dioecious trees come in.

Unlike the animal kingdom, which is mostly divided into male and female genders, the plant kingdom is by majority monoecious (bearing male and female flowers on the same plant). However, some plants (including trees such as ash, cedar, cottonwood, and juniper) are dioecious, which means there are separate male and female trees. So you have one population that produces pollen (male) and another that produces fruit and seeds (female). The upshot is that female dioecious plants produce no pollen and are benign to allergy sufferers. The male plants, on the other hand, are pollen machines, shooting their load continually March through June depending where you live.

So, in an allergy sufferer’s ideal world, the surrounding plants would be female dioecious ones. No pollen, no allergies. But in a developer’s ideal world, the best plants are the cheapest ones to maintain—the male plants, which don’t litter seeds and fruit.

This is the mentality of builders across North America. Allergies in cities are rampant as new-development dwellers cope with pollen counts surpassing anything they’d encounter on a nature hike. Essentially, if you live in a new city development with tidy rows of nice new trees, and you’re wondering why you’re being incapacitated by allergies, it’s because you’re being assaulted by an overabundance of male pollen. You’re being inundated by arboreal jizz.

So that’s why our bulging meds cupboard has Nasonex in it now. This alarms me, because it may be the reason my parents haven’t been buying alcohol lately. Could they be avoiding interactions? OMG!

I checked the Nasonex website and couldn’t find anything about alcohol. Perhaps the appropriate studies haven’t been done, as consumers are simply advised to discuss interactions with healthcare professionals. And since my parents wouldn’t bother doing that, alcohol’s go-for-takeoff.

So why isn’t there any in the house?

2 thoughts on “Hay Fever…a gender problem?

  1. “You’re being inundated by arboreal jizz.”

    OMG. Hilarious. And what a mental picture.

    My husband’s parents live in Surrey on a half acre and whenever we spend afternoons out there in the spring/summer he’s pretty much destroyed the entire time. Next time I’ll be sure to let him know that it’s all the plant semen hanging about that’s making him ill.

    (We’ll see how well his mom reacts to that.)

    Great post! And good luck with the booze!

    • It was a total accident finding out about the male/female ratio of plants. We’d even been to an allergist who didn’t mention that aspect of it. Good luck to your husband in Surrey 😉

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