Some of the most severe allergies can occur in summer when late-blooming plants are releasing their pollen, and grasses and weeds are commonly thought to be the worst culprits. Their pollen can travel for several miles and fill the air with miniscule grains that send some people’s immune systems into action, creating the histamines that cause itchy, watery eyes, runny noses and the other allergy symptoms that make them feel miserable.
Ryegrass grows wild in the meadows, pastures, open fields and lawns of the Northern U.S. Its peak pollen production is in the spring and summer. If ryegrass has invaded your yard, you are exposed to the allergens each time you mow or do yard work. Bermuda grass grows throughout the southern half of the U.S. from California to Florida and in some northern regions like northern California and Oregon. It’s a common lawn grass in warm areas and is used heavily in golf courses.
Orchard grass is often mistaken for a native plant in the U.S., but in fact is was imported from Europe in the late eighteenth century. It is often planted as a grass for hay and livestock forage so may be found in and near farms and ranches. Sweet vernal grass grows throughout the Eastern U.S. and along the Pacific Coast. Its thick flower heads smell like sweet clover but have a bitter taste. It is not normally cultivated, but grows in wild open places such as roadsides, riverbanks and fields.
Ragweed grows in fields, along roadsides, riverbanks and other rural areas. It is most commonly found in the Midwest and the Mississippi River basin. Its peak pollen time is summer and fall. According to the Asthma Allergy Foundation of America, 75 percent of Americans who suffer from plant-related allergies are allergic to ragweed pollen. Equally allergy-inducing is pigweed, also known as tumbleweed, which is in peak pollen production from spring until fall. It grows in open fields all over the northern and western United States.
Sagebrush may be one of the worst causes for summer airborne allergies. Coastal sagebrush grows throughout southern and western California, common sagebrush can be found all over the western U.S. from Washington to North Dakota and southern California to eastern Arizona. Pasture sagebrush is distributed throughout the western U.S. as well as New England and the Lake States.
Though not technically a plant, mold may be responsible for your common allergy symptoms when the weather warms up. Levels of mold rise when the air is moist and warm. If you are susceptible to summer allergies, stay indoors during the morning if you can – that’s when pollen counts are the highest. Keep your windows and doors shut when practical and invest in an air purifier.
Change your home air filters often and keep your home as dust free as possible. Vacuum at least twice each week. Wash all of your area rugs, afghans, coverlets, decorative pillows and beddings in very hot water. Wash your hair and change your clothes after spending any extended time outside. When doing yardwork and housework, wear a mask to decrease the amount of airborne allergens you inhale.