Females win botanical battle of the sexes
The age-old question of which is the superior sex has a new twist: For landscapers who want to help allergy and asthma sufferers, the female definitely rules.
That’s according to a self-taught botanist who claims that bringing out the feminine side of your garden can help tame seasonal allergies and asthma.
Thomas Ogren’s latest book, The Allergy-Fighting Garden: Stop Asthma and Allergies With Smart Landscaping, offers tips for landscapers who want to make their outdoor areas more friendly toward allergy sufferers. The crux of the landscaper’s advice is simple: Whenever possible, use female plants instead of male ones; many plants have male and female versions.
Male plants produce the pollen that irritates many allergy sufferers, and unfortunately, they’ve been overused in modern landscaping because they’re cheaper, Ogren said.
But female plants not only don’t produce pollen, they actually trap it, turning it into seeds.
Smart landscapers should use female plants, self-pollinating plants like fruit trees, or flowers such as orchids that solely depend on insects for pollination, Ogren said.
Hospitals in particular need to step up so they’re not irritating sick patients, Ogren said. He argued that smart, citywide landscaping ought to be considered in population-health management because less airborne pollen could mean lower healthcare costs.
“It seems like health insurers are kind of missing the boat by not jumping on this,” Ogren said. “It looks like it could save a lot of misery and it looks like it could save a lot of money.”
The female taxus baccata, or English yew, top right, would be an allergy-fighting alternative to the male version, bottom right.