Plant sperm

Aren’t plants disgusting?

If you suffer from hay fever, and we are entering the time when the grasses really get going, then you need to check the pollen forecast from the Met Office.  My eyes were streaming this morning after I went for a walk on my local patch.  I think Plantlife needs to sort this out!

Pollen is, not to put too fine a point on it, the male gametes of plants (wrapped up in a nice coating) floating about in the air (and getting up your nose and into your eyes).

Here is a rather nifty ‘infographic’ from the Met Office…

Pollen in the UKSource:


31 Replies to “Plant sperm”

      1. I meant the red area on the map representing the vh pollen count, now I’m sober and it’s breakfast time it looks more like a teapot!
        Sorry to be flippant amongst informed and erudite comments, I’ve learnt two new words – cleistogamous and entomophilous, thanks Filbert.

    1. Why is this dated June 10, 2014 at 6:18 pm, I can’t remember having said this!!

      1. Richard – I updated a post from 2014 and reposted it here. And that’s what you said at the time.

  1. That map suggests that monocultures of wheat and oilseed rape are well correlated with the worst pollen effects. 😉

    1. “Monoculture” is a term erroneously applied to arable cropping in the UK. That aside, wheat is mostly cleistogamous and oilseed rape sheds little pollen – like most entomophilous species. Most grass conserved as silage won’t get as far as flowering. Winter barley excerts its anthers after pollination and can shed dead pollen like smoke in the right conditions. That does get up the nose.

      1. Interesting. Erroneously applied because arable cropping involves crop rotation where as a monoculture is maintained over a number of years? Or is there some other distinction?

        1. “because arable cropping involves crop rotation”

          Yes. Even a landscape of wall-to-wall wheat will comprise several different varieties – so there is within-species genetic diversity which can’t IMHO be called “monoculture”. Even less so when you put OSR, barley et al into the rotation.

          1. Blimey Filbert. You set a high bar for the use of the term. To me (and I suspect to most insects) wall to wall wheat is a monoculture.

  2. Have any other hay fever sufferers noticed how London’s Plane trees’ flowers (or is it the developing fruits?) shed little brown fibres by the zillion which, in windy weather, collect in drifts all along the pavements and get in your eyes and irritate like crazy?!

    1. Only slightly related, but is it true that oak processionary moth causes alergic skin reactions?

      1. Yes, as with a few other notable species of hairy caterpillar like the mainly coastal Brown-tail moth that Local Authorities get paranoid about – but only IF you get very close and touch or inhale the hairs! Tree workers quoted as being most at risk of coming into contact with Oak Processionary larvae, or inadvertently rubbing against their ‘nests’ that get smothered in shed hairs (probably to protect the nest). Images of skin rashes etc caused by different species can be googled. And hairy caterpillars are favourite Cuckoo fodder of course!

      2. PS The hairs can also blow in the wind and get into the eyes causing a reaction if very close to the source.

    2. Chelsea Flu they used to call it. ‘Cause it coincided with the Flower Show Week.

  3. Oil seed rape gets me going but where would we be without plants? There would be no life on the surface of Earth.

  4. Interesting botanical classification system used by the met office: ‘trees’ , ‘grasses’ and ‘weeds’!

  5. Mark did you know if you get nyjer seed and sunflower heart seed grind them up (small handful) water down with milk then apply under your nostrils and eyelids it prevents hayfever.

    1. James – welcome and thank you for an interesting comment. Maybe I’ll try that…

    2. If you get tobacco leaves, grind them up and shove them up your nose it makes you sneeze. Stan Freberg.

  6. Is our essential problem with all this that we all sort of believe that the world is organised for our convenience? (Hint: it isn’t.)

  7. In “Catch-22” there is an interlude about The Man Who Sees Everything Twice

  8. Why have a bunch of comments from 2014 inserted themselves into this thread?

  9. Pollen is loved by paleoecologists, archaeologists and forensic scientists.

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