Monday, January 7, 2008

I'm Allergic to Austin

Copyright © 2008. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Well, not all of it. So far, I only seem to be annoyingly allergic to the Mountain cedar (Juniperus ashei) which populates my area of the Balcones Canyonland Preserve by the millions (billions?) and is pollinating enthusiastically this month.

Here are some cedars holding seige a few blocks from my house...

Being a Missouri farm girl I'd never heard of anything pollinating during January, but turns out mountain cedar is originally froma Northern Mexico. The Advocates at People Against Cedars kindly gave permission for me to use this scary photo of a cedar tree releasing pollen...[thank you!]

Now that's a lot of pollen!

People Against Cedars work hard to educate people about Mountain Cedars. Turns out Mountain cedars are bad neighbors. They are invasive water hogs, (one plant can drink 32 gallons of water a day!) and worst of all Mountain cedars cause a growing threat of fire as they spread. Mountain cedars are even illegal to buy, sell and plant in certain parts of the Southwest because of health and fire hazards. Sounds like it may be time to cull the little buggers. If I didn't think I'd expire participating, I'd get out there and start chopping.

In the video below it's not smoke you're seeing that's drifting through the air it's cedar pollen in an 11 second video by "WoedaB" ...


I did not realize I had allergies until we moved to Austin. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America voted Austin, Texas the 2nd allergy capital of the US. Now that's a distinction I could have lived without.

When I asked my doctor when allergy season was over in Austin she laughed rather too gleefully for my taste and handed over a big allergy sheet very much like the data sheet below from the Central Texas Allergy & Asthma Center.

Hmm...As you can see there is no real 'down-time' for the afflicted in Austin. But if you're bothered by Mountain Cedar you might not want to winter here. I pop antihistamines like Chiclets and take so many Skin-so-Soft baths I think my Avon lady is going to propose.

Yet see how the Mountain Cedars mock me...

Next week: "How to Garden In a Space Suit"


"I fear one day I'll meet God, He'll sneeze and I won't know what to say."~Ronnie Shakes

Copyright © 2008. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.


Carol said...

Your allergy sounds miserable. At least here in the winter-time, allergy sufferers get a reprieve. It's those darn cottonwoods in the spring that bother me.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Dawn said...

Hi Carol,
You have my deepest empathy when the cottonwoods start to abuse you. Allergies are No Fun.

I think I could handle the sneezing. It's the itching that's really driving me nuts. If it doesn't get better I'll have to ask my doctor for something stronger than over-the-counter meds. Ugh.

Annie in Austin said...

Poor baby! My neighborhood has very few cedars but the wind carries them everywhere. The deck on our previous house used to turn solid gold.

It didn't take too long after we moved here to realize the windows were only for light - there are few times of the year when you can open them without inviting some dreadful pollen or mold to attack you inside your home. And pets going in and out are a big source of contamination.

I hope the new school semester is a good one!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Pam/Digging said...

Dawn, I can't believe you're trying to survive cedar fever with OTC medicine. Honey, get yourself to the doctor for some real meds.

I'd never had any pollen allergies until I moved to Austin. After 5 years, I got cedar fever for the first time and was just miserable. The next year was worse, so I started taking prescription medicine for it, which helps tremendously. I start on Flonase, or some similar nasal spray, before Xmas, then add in Patanol eye drops, and when it gets really bad I take Allegra too. It gets me through, though the itchy eyes sometimes drive me mad.

Good luck with your cedar battle!

Dawn said...

Hi Pam,
I'm a complete newbie at this Cedar Fever thing. Last year I sneezed/coughed a bit, but this year I'm obviously one of the Walking Wounded. My eyes & throat itch and my skin is on fire. It's crazy. Eye drops sound like heaven. You're right; I should call my MD.

OR...Maybe I could just live in a clean-room for the next few months. Open it up when the last of the g.d. Mountain Cedar have been burnt off the face of the planet. [don't worry, it's just the antihistamines talking].

Dawn, Former Indiscriminant Tree Hugger

Dawn said...

Hi Annie!
My friends/family from outside the area have a really hard time understanding that you just cannot open the windows and "let the fresh air in" around here, because there isn't any. LOL! It's not that the air is polluted with toxins exactly...BUT...

Honestly, I had no idea I would ever be one of those unsuspecting folks who can't handle something like pollen. I mean I wanted to major in Botany for goodness sakes. Ouch. Feet of clay here. Oh well. :-}

Thanks for the good wishes about school, Annie. I think the year should go okay. My only real concern is my son's scoliosis diagnosis. He's curvature has progressed quickly in the past few months, but we're hoping his corrective surgery can safely wait until summer so he won't have to miss any school this spring. Fingers crossed.


~~kattz*cottage~~ said...

Hi Dawn!
I can sympathize with you! We're more north of Austin but are constantly affected by allergies up here too - I've been sneezing for two days & never thought about cedar! We have them all over our yard & woods. Hope you feel better soon!


Dawn said...

Ah Kathy!
I'm sorry you're sneezing too. I'll bet it's the darn cedars. This morning the front of my neck looks sunburnt so I'll see my doctor tomorrow. Gosh, I'm turning into my grandmother. Next thing you know I'll be showing off my scars in restaurants. LOL!
Hope your sneezing is a thing of the past.


blueblue said... about extreme pollination going on in those photos.

I knew someone who was allergic to sugar cane pollen (who knew sugar cane had flowers?). The sad truth is if you drive 18 hours from Brisbane to is a constant scenic view of sugar cane fields. A tad unlucky.

Michelle (the beartwinsmom) said...

Dawn, When I lived in Houston, my allergies got worse. I naively thought I'd get better by living in the South. Sigh....

I do miss Texas on some days. But I definitely do NOT miss the constant allergy seasons.

Hugs for you!

ozarkso said...

Yup having spent 6 miserable years in College Station you are not in a friendly climate. Allergy Central. Have you experienced cottonwood yet?

There are so many invasive species out there. In Portland, OR the English Ivy has been creating havoc in the Washington Park for years and Scotch Broom is just spreading like wildfire --- nasty for allergies.

Libbys Blog said...

My goodness that clip is quite scary! My daughter had a look and was shocked too, she said I must remember not to take my boyfriend there as he has the most awful allergies!

Diana said...

My sympathies! I lived here 20 years before I got it, but it was so bad I finally started allergy shots 4 years ago and I am now the world's biggest advocate. The shots DO NOT hurt - you barely feel it the needle is so very small, and after a little inconvenience (shots once a month to weekly in the worst of it Nov-Feb) for 2 years and I an cedar fever- FREE! No headaches or runny nose or anything. The shots seemed so extreme to me for so long and I wished I'd done it 10 years ago. Would have saved me so many debilitating headaches. Pam's right -- at least you should get some Flonase or Nasonex -- that is so much better than anything OTC. Good luck -- and keep the windows closed! In my house, I call it the "evil air" when my husband wants to open up the house!!!

Nancy said...

The cedar pollen doesn't just affect the Central Texas region. With every north wind or cold front, the pollen travels down and gets us here in Houston too.


Mary said...

Dawn, I don't know how I missed this entry.

My heart goes out to you, from me, who lived with allergies, doctors, medicine for most of my life. I hope you find a remedy to help you out.

Maryland and Delaware were surrounded by water which created all sorts of mold. I suffered so badly there with ragweed and mold. Here in Charlotte, I'm doing so much better. I rarely wheeze or have those itchy watery eyes anymore.

Best wishes...

Dawn said...

Hi Blueblue!
Being surrounded by anything that one is allergic to sounds like bad news. I hope your friend found some relief from the sugar cane pollen. Yikes!

Hello Michelle
Hope all is going well in your world. Houston definitely has its fair share of allergens from what I've heard.

Welcome ozarkso!
Thanks for dropping by. We had cottonwood in our front garden in Missouri, but I was fortunate enough not to have allergy symptoms.

Hi Libby!
The good news is there is an 'off season'. So you can visit the area when the plants aren't pollinating.

Thanks Diana,
I'm very willing to get the shots if they'd stop my headaches. I'm just not sure what sorts of shots to ask for. Is it an antihistamine or a vaccine? Maybe you could e-mail the info to me sometime if you get a chance.

I hope the meds continue to help you. :-)

Hi Nancy
Bless you! This is why I think we need to replace all the none native cedars with native trees. I know I'm an idealist, but wouldn't it be lovely? :-)

Dear Mary,
I'm feeling much better now, thanks. I had a rough time and ended up in the ER one evening, with a related allergy/infection response, but have heavy-duty antibiotic & antihistamines which have really helped.

I'm so glad Charlotte is an improvement for you. Sounds like it's a better place to retire (making note to self).

Happy Breathing Everyone!

MichaelB said...

Hello everybody- I'm contemplating moving to Austin. I have terrible allergies, although I'm not sure if I'd be allergic to the species down there.

Are the allergies and cedar fever bad enough where I should think pretty seriously about not coming to austin and relocating somewhere else?

I don't want to be miserable all the time.

Please email any advice to