For the nearly 10 million Canadians who identified as allergy sufferers in a recent national survey, there is hope.
The garden is a man's world, thanks to what horticulturalist and author Thomas Leo Ogren calls horticultural sexism: the practice of selling "tidier" male plants that don't shed seeds and fruit like their female counterparts.
Of course, males are not as innocent as they seem. They disperse pollen and, with increasingly fewer female plants to catch the fine dustlike particles, allergy and asthma rates in North America have soared.
"Female trees are like natural air cleaners, but there's a lack of them in the planted landscape," Ogren says.
As allergy specialist Dr. Ross Chang, president of the B.C. Society of Allergy and Immunology, explains, allergies result from a hypersensitivity of the immune system, which is less active with age, though "some patients … develop and have worsening allergies in their 50s and older because of skin, nasal and bronchial mucosal hyperactivity."
Chang says rising plant allergy rates may be due to horticultural sexism in urban areas and that "allergies in general are projected to continue to increase over the next five to 10 years."
But for the nearly 10 million Canadians who identified as allergy sufferers in a 2009 Johnson & Johnson national survey, there is hope.
Click through for Ogren's expert tips for green thumbs to identify male and female bushes and shrubs and how, in general, we can all do our part to make our yards less allergenic and make our outdoors a healthier place.
Copyright 2017 ZoomerMedia Limited