Pollen clues

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Allergy: the reaction (sneezing, watery eyes, itching) our bodies sometimes have to things like pollen, dust, and molds....more

Irritants: things that cause our body to react usually with our body defense system (immune system).

Symptoms: (1) How you look or feel when sick; like a fever or rash. (2) Changes in your body or behavior when you are sick.

Why Do They Call It Hay Fever?

hay stacks

For some people during the summer months a runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing are part of life. The cause of these symptoms is hay fever. Just what is hay fever and is it really hay that makes some carry a pocket full of Kleenex tissues? Hay fever is one way people describe summer allergies. This the time of year when many plants are flowering and so a lot of pollen is in the air and pollen is what makes some people sneeze and have watery eyes.

Hay Makes People Sneeze - Right?

Actually hay is not the problem. Many other plant pollens as well as other things like dust and molds cause allergies. Hay just got a bad name because it happens to be grown and harvested when other allergy causing plants are busy making their pollen. Because people with allergies noticed they were sneezing a lot during "haying season" the name "hay fever" was started and remains in our dictionary today.

So What Plants Cause the Most Problems for People with Allergies?

There are so many things that can cause allergies, here are just a few of the plants that are the worst.*


Amaranth (pigweed), chamomile, chrysanthemums, daisies, goldenrod, ordinary sunflowers.


Bermuda, fescue, Johnson, June, orchard, perennial rye, redtop, salt grass, sweet vernal, timothy


Alder, ash (male), aspen (male), beech, birch, box elder (male), cedar (male), cottonwood (male), elm, hickory, red and silver maples (male), mulberry (male), oak, olive, palm (male), pecan, pine, poplar (male), sycamore, walnut, willow (male).


Cocklebur, ragweed, Russian thistle, sagebrush.

* Reference:

WebMD's Worst and Best Flowers for People with Allergies

View Citation

You may need to edit author's name to meet the style formats, which are in most cases "Last name, First name."

Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Hay Fever
  • Author(s): Vaughn Bryant and Gretchen Jones
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: December 21, 2009
  • Date accessed: June 12, 2024
  • Link: https://askabiologist.asu.edu/hay-fever

APA Style

Vaughn Bryant and Gretchen Jones. (2009, December 21). Hay Fever. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved June 12, 2024 from https://askabiologist.asu.edu/hay-fever

American Psychological Association. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/

Chicago Manual of Style

Vaughn Bryant and Gretchen Jones. "Hay Fever". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 21 December, 2009. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/hay-fever

MLA 2017 Style

Vaughn Bryant and Gretchen Jones. "Hay Fever". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 21 Dec 2009. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 12 Jun 2024. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/hay-fever

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/

Sneeze shows droplets exiting a man’s open mouth. A good reason to cover your mouth when coughing, or sneezing to protect others from germ exposure.

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