Happy Spring!

It's the first day of Spring! To celebrate, here is a photo that science journalist Maryn McKenna took of her car windshield in Atlanta, Georgia, coated with a single day's worth of pollen. Please file "tree bukkake" under "Things I Do Not Miss About the South".

Interesting science side note on this: It's pretty well-documented that climate changes are affecting pollen production, pollen exposure, and allergies.

USDA scientist Lewis Ziska, among other researchers, has found that ragweed is one of the plants whose growth is most enhanced by exposure to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide. Not only does the ragweed grow faster when exposed to more CO2, it also produces more pollen. This is especially an issue in cities, which have higher concentrations of CO2 than rural areas, thanks to having a higher concentration of cars and other CO2 emitting sources. Extra bonus: There's also some evidence that allergy seasons are getting longer, as Spring starts earlier and Winter takes longer to truly set in.

You can read more about this in the report from the IPCC's Working Group II and in a paper on the effects of climate change on health written by Ziska and his collaborator, the late Paul Epstein.


  1. Unfortunately for me I’m going to have to file “tree bukkake” under “phrases I’m now going to think of for the next two months every time I look at my car”.

  2. Traditionally (in pre-Christian Northern Europe), the seasons started on the cross-quarter days.   So that makes today mid-Spring, not the beginning of Spring.

    The first day of Spring this year would have been 4th February.

  3. Not only does the ragweed grow faster when exposed to more CO2, it also produces more pollen.

    That’s stupid.  My allergies have been getting worse because Al Gore has been spiking my drinking water as part of his plot to destroy the world economy and become Dictator of Earth.


    Edit: Grr, George Soros! Hide the decline! No warming since 1998!

  4. Oh, look, it’s my town!
    Pollen counts have jumped so far off the charts that looking at the morning’s forecast is like a Dragonball character gauging someone’s power level. I’m not kidding – today’s pollen count in metro Atlanta is quite literally over 9000.

  5. “here is a photo that science journalist Maryn McKenna took of her car windshield”

    That’s actually a rear window of a 2001-2002 Saab 9-3, mine looks the same after not washing it for a month.

    1. Actually I think it’s a ’99, but otherwise yes. Except for the “not washing it for a month” part; that really was one day’s deposit. It’s parked under water oaks, pin oaks and a sweetgum.

      Related: Maggie, “tree bukkake” made me snort coffee on my monitor.

  6. 9369 pollen particles per cubic meter. Beats the historical record (which was yesterday at 8000-something).   This is about six times the threshold for “Extremely High,” but we pass that all the time.

    Although Spring and Fall are the worst, in Atlanta there’s Pollen Season, and January.

    1.  And what’s in the picture is not even the worst to come.  When the pine pollen starts up, that Jimmy Hendrix song “Yellow Haze All Through My Head” starts playing on my internal soundtrack.  On a gusty day, you’ll see thick clouds of pollen coming off the pines.

  7. They have that in the South? 
    Go figure. We get it with pine trees in Northern Ontario. 
    EDIT: a couple months later, obviously.

  8. A sad legacy of urban forestry policy, where female Dioecious trees and shrubs are disfavoured because they produce “litter”, whereas the now hyperabundant males only produce health hazard

    1. That has no bearing on the situation for cities (such as Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Little Rock) located in the largest and most diverse mixed broadleaf forest on Earth, the southeastern United States.

      The spring pollen you see here is almost exclusively from various Oak, Hickory, and Pine species. Trees that grow naturally in the area. I promise the remaining second growth forest is still large enough to coat everything in pollen in the spring.

      Oddly enough we probably have a larger spring pollen season now than was experienced pre-European contact. Our forests have changed drastically, primarily due to fire suppression, and have a lot more trees in them.

      We got our first rain today in Little Rock since the start of tree bukkake. Everyone was cheering that the pollen would finally get washed away.

  9. This is an unfortunate side effect of Atlanta being a city in a forest. It’s quite entertaining to hear the nonstop complaining from wingnuts who move into the city to reduce their commute and find that the city won’t grant them a permit to cut down all of the trees in their yard. Unless it looks like the tree from the movie Poltergeist, the city arborist won’t let you cut it down. Makes for nice shady neighborhoods and helps with rain runoff and the heat island effect but good heavens does it ever do a number on those with allergies.

  10. With last year’s drought stressing the trees and lots of rainy days in early spring, we’ve had a very light pollen season this year.

    I used to live pretty close to Hermann  Park in Houston. Walked there every day and acted as an informal tour guide to out of town guests. The sea breeze would push all the pollen to a couple of inlets in the west side of the lake. I actually met people who didn’t know what those huge slicks of yellow slime were. I sure wish I  had thought to use the term “tree bukkake” when explaining this to Japanese tourists.

    I really miss Hermann Park. Sunbathing Rice girls, rappers, bagpipes, amateur drumlines, dudes from the Riesner jail picking up trash, crazy preachers down by the zoo; those were the days. 

  11. Tree skeet.

    If you should ever see a breeze blow pollen from a pine tree’s limbs, imagine the tree screaming like Lil’ Jon.

  12. Ain’t seen no rain since last september, but plenty of snow.  Springtime comes around late April in these parts.  Lot’s of northern lights and gaining on sunlight, heehaw.  Love Alaska

  13. awww, all the “indoor children” are co-miserating.  Atlantan here.  The dogwoods, cherry blossoms, tulip poplars and a bunch of trees i don’t know are flowering.  It’s beautiful flowers top-to-bottom in every direction.   I don’t have a car to wash, nor allergies.  So your derision toward the natural beauty I’m greatly enjoying is so much sour grapes.  TTFN!

  14. I spent my years in Atlanta, that’s definitely a familiar sight – we’re getting that bad in Nashville. I have a new black car for the first time, and for the last week it’s been 1) Wake up to funky green car 2) Wash car 3) Wait a few hours 4) Funky green car again!

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