Pine Pollen As A Harbinger Of Spring

What is your favorite sign of Spring?

Mine is the delicate pale green of brand new leaves. To me, they are like little babies, promises from God that we can have a new start after a long winter.

There is a much earlier sign than those, however.

Pine pollen, aka "Mickey Mouse hats."
Pine pollen, aka "Mickey Mouse hats."

Mickey Mouse hats. Well, sort of. That’s what we call them when we see them in fecal flotation tests. They are actually pine pollen.

In the pollen world, pine pollen granules are HUGE! While people like to blame their Spring allergy breakouts on the cause of the yellow-green haze on their cars, pine pollen is actually much too big to be breathed into the part of the lungs where allergic reactions can occur.

Pine pollen can, however, act as a sentinel. By the time pines are producing pollen, red or “swamp” maples have been exuding reproductive matter for weeks. By now, they even have new red leaves on them.

So, if you, like me, suffer from inhalant allergies (as many of our patients do), it won’t be long now. I saw the first Mickey Mouse hats on a stool test Saturday.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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