Health benefits no sneezing matter

PAUL GAY
Last updated 07:35 28/08/2013
Pine
Pinus radiata flower buds mature into male flowers and produce a pollen to be blown by the wind to pollinate female cones that form on the same or other trees.

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It's not even spring and already some folk are running to the medicine cupboard for anti-allergy pills and sprays.

Pine trees are one of the most prolific pollen producers that we have in our countryside. Some people even have ornamental species growing in their home gardens.

The Pinus radiata flower buds will mature into male flowers and its pollen is wind blown to pollinate female cones that form on the same or other trees.

Being light and dust-like in size, pine pollen can be carried by the wind for long distances. It has been detected over land 300 kilometres from the nearest pine forest and 100km out to sea. It becomes very diluted over such distances, and most pollen is actually deposited a kilometre or two from where it was produced. On windy days, when the pollen is ripe, it can be seen as clouds of yellow dust blowing from the trees and at such times it often settles as a bright yellow powder on waterways, parked cars and roadsides.

Pine pollen is not all bad news as far as our health is concerned. In some countries it is recognised as a nutritional powerhouse. It is said to contain over 200 vitamins, amino acids minerals and anti-oxidants.

It's not easy to collect and process pine pollen. A single grain weighs just 37 billionths of a gram, and hectares of plantation are needed to produce worthwhile quantities.

However, pine pollen herbal powders are available and are said to have beneficial results for a variety of ailments.

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- The Southland Times

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