Pine Pollen Season Underway

It settles on cars, keeps noses running and has allergy doctors smiling.

Yes, it's pollen season again in South Mississippi. And the most common type of pollen comes from the pine tree.

Larry Lott is thankful he doesn't have allergies. His job at the experimental forest station involves working with pine pollen. Plastic bags isolate either the female pine flower or the pollen producing male bud, called a catkin.

"Pine pollen is the way the trees reproduce," Lott said. "That's the pollen for the female flowers."

Here's how Mother Nature works. The pine pollen from the male catkin is blown off the tree by the wind. If conditions are right, some of the pollen will land on the female flower. That will eventually produce a pine cone and finally a baby pine tree.

But anyone who lives in South Mississippi soon learns that much of the pollen misses it's mark. It lands on cars for instance.

That wayward pollen means a booming business at the car wash. Like love bugs, pine pollen signals a busy season.

Connor Floyd manages the Classy Chasis on Pass Road in Biloxi.

"We saw the pollen coming in Friday, late Friday. Saturday came and we had the cars lined up outside just waiting to get the pollen off."

If you're already sick of the pine pollen, you won't like this bit of news. Although the "slack pine" is nearly finished pollinating, that's only the start.

Larry Lott says there's more on the way.

"In about another two weeks the long leaf and the lob lolly will start shedding. And then a couple more weeks the short leaf will start. And we have all species here along the coast."

Which means break out the Claritin and the car wash coupons. Pine pollen will be hanging around a few more weeks.