The beautiful gardens at St James’s Church, next to Piccadilly Market, contain seven magnificent London plane trees which have just decided to shed their flowers.
See those spines? As the flowers spin through the air — the trees are air pollinators — the spines break off and turn into highly efficient bioaerosols. These attach themselves to the skin, mouth, throat, eyes, and may penetrate into the lungs. Result: coughing, sneezing, watering eyes, itching. Asthmatics need to be careful.
High temperatures and a strong hot wind don’t help (humans) but, of course, help the trees. Heat = perspiration = more plane tree bioaerosols sticking to the skin = more itching.
What can be done? Tree surgeons wear gas masks when dealing with a flowering plane tree. It’s that bad. Or refuse to go near them until winter. Those forced into close proximity should chew gum to wash the spines from the throat, and bathe regularly to remove the spines from the skin. Lavender essential oil — a natural antihistamine — may help a bit but pollen isn’t really the problem.