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Male White Pine Cones Opening Up & Releasing Pollen

Itchy eyes, runny nose and scratchy throat may have told you that this is a banner year for tree pollen. White Pines (Pinus strobus) get much of the credit. They bear both male and female cones on the same tree (monoecious), as do most conifers.  The familiar female (seed) cones are between four and eight inches long, woody and dark brown.  The male (pollen) cones are much smaller (1/2”), papery and light in color. They are borne in clusters and have tightly overlapping scales that open up when the pollen is mature, releasing massive amounts of pollen into the air which is distributed by the wind.  (To see this phenomenon, go to Pollen can remain airborne for up to 11 hours, and can travel up to 1,800 miles in a short amount of time. Once the pollen is dispersed, the male cones fall off the tree and disintegrate quite quickly.

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5 responses

  1. Alice

    Amazing! I didn’t know pollen could be airborne for so long. Good thing that’s just for trees.

    June 10, 2022 at 7:45 am

  2. Connie Snyder

    Yup, that’s what swirled through this valley Tuesday morning as I drove down I-91. A “pollen storm” darkened the air with a sulfuric tone – heaviest I’ve seen in years. The pollen grains seem to have an almost “sticky” quality – hard to wash off – probably a “survival mechanism”. Thanks for the video!

    June 10, 2022 at 8:33 am

  3. Rita Pitkin

    Thanks Mary. Yesterday I was looking at a bird with my binocs and happened to catch a view of a couple of. If white pines near my house. Wowzer, the bright yellow pollen on the cones was startling- hadn’t noticed it much before.

    June 10, 2022 at 9:50 am

  4. Denise Hylton

    do you use venmo? cant open link to donate. thanks!

    June 12, 2022 at 5:48 am

  5. Most people are not allergic to pine pollen.

    June 12, 2022 at 9:17 am

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