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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Tuesday - June 19, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants
Title: Source of Allergies in Austin, TX
Answered by: Joe Marcus


Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants. I live in Northwest Austin and I've been suffering from allergies since moving to Austin. The allergies seem to occur at least once a year for at least a month or two. Beginning today (June 18), I've definitely noticed my sinuses reacting. I've been tested for allergic reactions to the usual suspects (both blood and skin tests), and no major allergies were discovered. Do you have an idea what might be causing the reaction?


We feel your pain ... and your achiness ... and your itching and watering eyes ... and your stuffy and painful sinuses! 

Along with all the joys of living in Austin, Texas comes the misery of our multitudinous airborne allergens.  "Cedar Fever" (caused by pollen from the native tree, Ashe Juniper, Juniperus ashei) gets most of the press, but for some reason, other plant pollens as well as the spores of various mold species seem to be especially troublesome in our area.

Unfortunately, you must have misdirected your question to me instead of Dr. Smarty Plants MD since your question is really a medical one and is thus outside my area of expertise or competence.  I will say, however, that I have known folks who had experiences similar to yours and just kept getting tested (sometimes by different medical doctors) until they finally DID find the cause of their suffering and a therapy to relieve it.

Good luck!


From the Image Gallery

Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

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