Pollen is one of the most common causes of seasonal allergies. For many, the brilliant blooms of spring, summer and fall blossom into misery.
The tiny, often microscopic, pollen granules that cause so many adults to shudder in anticipation of the coming season, are a common means of reproduction for a large number of plant species. Pollen granules in plants are akin to sperm cells in humans; these must unite with other cells in order for some plants to reproduce. The random union of these cells ensures genetic diversity in plants.
Plants increase the odds of reproduction by producing millions of pollen granules, even though it only takes one to successfully fertilize a plant. Some release pollen grains into the wind and others, mostly flowering plants, rely on insects and animals, such as the birds and bees, to carry the pollen to other plants of the same species. The pollen grains are often prickly-shaped and sometimes sticky, to increase their chances of clinging to a plant.
Although many people complain of allergic reactions to flowering plants, very few are actually allergic to them. The majority of allergy sufferers are allergic to pollen from plain-looking plants, such as grasses, weeds and trees, because these more commonly release pollen into the wind.
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