Plane Tree Pollen: Do Plane Trees Cause Allergies

Plant Tree Pollen
plane tree allergy
(Image credit: JAH)

Plane trees are tall, up to 100 feet (30.5 m.) with spreading branches and attractive green bark. These are often urban trees, growing in or on the outskirts of cities. Do plane trees cause allergies? Many people say that they have an allergy to London plane trees. For more information on plant tree allergy problems, read on.

Plane Tree Allergy Problems

The best places to see plane trees, sometimes called London plane trees, are in inner-city areas of European cities. They are also popular street and park trees in Australia. Plane trees are great urban trees since they are pollution-tolerant. Their tall trunks and green canopies offer shade in hot summers. The peeling bark presents an attractive, camouflage pattern. The spreading branches are filled with large palmate leaves, up to 7 inches (18 cm.) across. But do plane trees cause allergies? Many people claim to be allergic to plane trees. They claim to have severe, hay-fever type symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, and similar issues. But it is not clear if these allergies are caused by plane tree pollen, plane tree foliage, or something else altogether. In fact, few scientific studies have been done concerning the health risks, if any, of these trees. If plane tree pollen causes allergies, it hasn’t been proven yet. An informal study conducted by academics in Sydney, Australia tested people who claimed to be allergic to London plane trees. It found that while 86 percent of the people tested were allergic to something, only about 25 percent were allergic to plane trees. And all those that tested positive for an allergy to London plane trees were also allergic to grass. Most people who get symptoms from plant trees blame it on the tree pollen when, in fact, it is more likely trichomes. Trichomes are fine, spiky hairs that cover the young leaves of plane trees in spring. The trichoes are released into the air as the leaves mature. And it is very likely that trichomes trigger this allergy to London plane trees, rather than plane tree pollen. This is not necessarily good or welcome news for people with an allergy to the trees. The trichoe season runs for some 12 weeks, compared with a six-week season for plane tree pollen.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.