The article in Wednesday’s FNP (Goldenrod a culprit of ‘Asthma Peak Week’) perpetuates a long-held belief that the major cause of late summer/early fall allergy symptoms is goldenrod.
While goldenrod may contribute a small percentage to the respiratory allergens present in September and October, it is ragweed that is responsible for the vast majority of suffering. Ragweed is a relatively inconspicuous but widespread plant with small green flowers whose pollen is a very strong allergen.
Goldenrod often gets the blame for late season allergies because its showy golden yellow blooms coincide with the release of massive amounts of ragweed pollen from a plant that most people don’t notice.
Goldenrod and ragweed are both members of the plant family Compositae (as are sage, marigold, zinnia, sunflowers and more) but ragweed is the most highly allergenic in this group (http://extension.missouri.edu/adair/ragweed.aspx). Most importantly, the pollen of ragweed is carried by the wind while goldenrod pollen, which is too heavy to be airborne, is transferred via pollinator insects (http://www.pollenlibrary.com/Genus/Solidago/).
The next time you see goldenrod, enjoy the beauty of its flowers but don’t blame it for your allergies.