How to use a plant’s allergy rankings to plan your landscaping

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FRESNO, California (KGPE) – A plant or tree’s OPALS ranking can help us make better choices when avoiding allergies.

OPALS stands for Ogren Plant Allergy Scale and was developed 20 years ago to rank the potential different plants have to cause allergy symptoms. Its use has been adopted by the USDA, the American Lung Association, and the California Department of Health and Human Services.

Many popular trees in the Central Valley rank high on this scale.

“Right now: juniper, elm, alder, ash, olive, beechwood, boxelder,” said allergist Dr. Malik Baz.

Dr. Baz says some pollen is less airborne than others, like fruit trees.

“Apple, cherry, pear or plum. Those pollen are so heavy they will not fly.”

For allergy sufferers, a bigger problem may be right beneath your feet.

“Almost every grass produces pollens. Grass pollen flies six to eight miles. Tree pollen two miles. Sometimes 50 miles and ends up in the ocean. And pine pollen can go all the way around the world.”

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