Problematic Pollen | In the Dark


Four years ago, in the early months of the pandemic, back in April 2020 I wrote a post that mentioned an allergy I thought was due to tree pollen which I had noticed taking walks for exercise around the deserted Maynooth University campus. I hadn’t experienced such a thing before but didn’t know whether I had developed it in later life or whether I’d just never previously been exposed to the source. I did subsequently discover, by experimentation, that the culprit was oak pollen.

Well, for the last couple of weeks I have been suffering from a similar, but rather more severe, form of allergic reaction which I assumed was caused by tree pollen. This one doesn’t just provoke sneezing but also makes my eyes go red and watery. There are many trees of different types in the streets of Barcelona. For example, the road on which I live, Rambla de Catalunya, is lined with Lime trees (Linden); these don’t cause a reaction. Another common species is the Plane (Sycamore) and that’s OK for me too.

To identify the culprit I did some experiments similar to what I did four years ago. This wasn’t too difficult because particular streets seem to have been planted with particular trees. And so it came to pass that I soon identified the culprit, Quercus Ilex, of which there are few in places near me, including Passeig de Gràcia and Plaça de Catalunya, as seen here:

Quercus Ilex

Quercus Ilex is the botanical name for the Holm Oak (or Holly Oak), an evergreen member of Oak family in contrast to the English Oak (Quercus Robur) which is deciduous. So it seems that pollen of the genus Quercus produces a quirk of my immune system…

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