Re: honey, this botanist's feedback, which app…

Re: honey, this botanist's feedback, which appeared recently in the NYTimes letters to the editor, sounds more plausible to me:

To the Editor:

I applaud Thomas Leo Ogren’s plea to reduce pollen in our cities, but his solutions require a fair amount of botanical knowledge. Knowing what plants are monoecious or dioecious is difficult — even for the trained botanist.

An easier rule of thumb is to plant plants with showy colorful flowers like magnolia, black cherry, redbud and flowering dogwood. Showy flowers are designed to attract birds and bees, and they make pollen that is designed to affix to their pollinators. Their pollen is sticky, produced in small quantities, and large so it is less likely to be blown in the wind, where it can be inhaled by an unsuspecting passer-by.

Wind-pollinated plants like oaks, elms, ashes and some maples have tiny inconspicuous flowers that produce prodigious amounts of dry, small pollen grains that are held aloft by even the slightest air currents and carried long distances.

Showy flowered plants provide the benefit of enjoying the bloom, a food source for both native bees and New York City’s newly approved honeybees, and a planting that releases less pollen into the air. Showy, brilliant flowers are a win-win-win solution.

Joan Edwards
Williamstown, Mass., April 7, 2010

The writer is a botanist and biology professor at Williams College.

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