According to the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper on March 16, “Monday, marked the highest pollen count in a decade in Albuquerque, according to pollen data records kept by the city. A pollen-data station on Albuquerque’s west side recorded a juniper pollen count of 3,349, more than a thousand above the last record.” They haven’t released the juniper pollen count for Santa Fe yet but I bet it’s also a record setter this year too.
How does this affect us gardeners? Well some gardeners can’t even get out of their houses (much less even open their windows) this time of year because of intense allergies to the juniper pollen. The culpert? Juniperus ashei. It is one of the predominant trees/bushes here in the surrounding areas outside of Santa Fe and causes allergies for many people living here. It’s the male juniper that causes all the problems releasing the orange waves of pollen from its many pollen cones this time of year. If you look around you can see the difference between the male and female junipers with the male junipers turning rusty orange right now just before they release their pollen in the wind. Good luck to all of you with this allergy this year in particular. And for those of us not bothered by the juniper now is a great time to start your spring garden.