October 8, 2016

1 - Numerous weeds, grasses, and even some landscape plants blooming now are causing fall allergies.

Yard and Garden October 8, 2016

Q.

My wife and I are suffering from allergies. They are bad and weather reports say Chenopodiaceae are high. I googled images and do not see what in NM is a Chenopodiaceae and what may be blooming now?

- Kevin B.

Albuquerque

A.

Late summer and fall allergies are causing problems for many people this year. We usually think of spring allergies, but in the autumn we have weeds, native plants, and grasses blooming. Many people respond to the pollens from these plants with allergic responses. In addition to the plants, some people respond to the spores of fungi that are produced following our summer and fall rains. It does not take a lot of rain to stimulate the fungi to release spores.

You stated that the "Chenopodiaceae" pollen levels are high. Chenopodiaceae refers to a plant family that includes several garden weeds including lamb's quarters. These are interesting plants and edible (weeds) when they are young. They are called wild spinach. However, the Chenopodiaceae plant family has been demoted to a subfamily of the Amaranthaceae family by botanists.

Plants in the Amaranthaceae family are very common and also produce pollens that can stimulate allergic responses in people. Searching the internet with this plant name may give you more plants to consider.

Pigweeds, also known as amaranth plants, are very common weeds, but include some ornamental plants. This is another group of edible weeds sometimes called wild spinach. They are safe to eat when young and tender, but develop oxalates in their tissues as they age. The oxalates can be toxic to people. In the case of your question, the amaranth plants produce pollens that can cause allergies.

Tumbleweeds (Russian thistles) are members of the Amaranthaceae family that may be causing your problems. They bloom in late summer and early fall.

Many arid wildlands of New Mexico are habitat for four-wing saltbush, another member of the Amaranthaceae. This is another plant that can cause allergic responses in sensitive people.

As you search for plants, you will find many desert / arid land flora, but you may also notice some garden plants and landscape plants. Frost should come in about 3 to 4 weeks in the Central Rio Grande valley and end the flowering of these weeds. There are also a lot of grasses blooming now, and they can also cause allergies. The frost should take care of them too.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.

Links:

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

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