TYLER, Texas (KETK) – If you have been sneezing and feeling under the weather lately, you might have cedar fever.
Cedar fever is an allergic reaction to pollen from mountain cedar trees, such as the Ashe juniper.
“Because all of those junipers are producing pollen at the same time, you’re going to get a higher concentration of pollen in the air,” said Jonathan Motsinger, Texas A&M Forest Service Central Texas Operations Department Head.
Karl Flocke, a woodland ecologist for Texas A&M Forest Service, said the pollen is very concentrated so this can make people get sick.
“There are millions of junipers out there all releasing pollen at the same time,” said Flocke, “You can’t help but breathe it in, and when you do, your body reacts as it would to any perceived threat – it tries to fight it.”
Pollen travels with the wind, so cedar fever can affect people who are not located very close to juniper trees. In East parts of Texas redcedars can also cause people to have allergies.
Junipers are unique because they pollinate in the winter time, and not many plants do this. These trees create pollen in mid-December and they make the most pollen in mid-January. Then, they gradually produce less until March.
“Immediately before and after a cold front it gets very dry and windy and the pressure changes very rapidly,” said Flocke. “This triggers the opening of pollen cones and the release of the pollen grains. When you see the pollen billowing off a tree that has just ‘popped,’ or opened its cones, it looks very similar to smoke coming from a wildfire.”
Experts mentioned that cedar fever can cause several symptoms such as fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, partial loss of smell and fever. But, if a person has a fever greater than 101.5°F, then they might be sick due to something else. There are also other signs people can pay attention to.
“Typically, mucous from allergies is clear and runny while other infections lead to thicker colored mucous,” Flocke said.
Cedar fever can also cause other symptoms like itchy, watery eyes, blocked nasal passages and sneezing. People can take allergy medicine and antihistamines if they become sick.
For more information about how to identify Ashe junipers and/or eastern redcedars in your own backyard, check out the Texas A&M Forest Service’s Texas Tree ID webpage or the My Tree ID mobile app. You can also see the distribution of junipers across the state via the Forest Distribution App, which can identify the distribution of native tree species across the state of Texas.
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