CS Magazine
Cedars-Sinai Magazine

Why Am I Sneezing - Tips

A Spring Guide to Pollen in Southern California

Seasonal allergies leave many of us red-eyed and sniffling. Pollen from grasses, trees and weeds is often the culprit behind allergies. These plants release their pollen from the male part of a flower or cone. Wind, animals and insects carry the powdery grains to fertilize other plants.

Here are the most common sources of pollen in Southern California.


Most types of grass release pollen only when they grow tall. A few types, including Bermuda, notoriously release pollen even when kept short. Perennial ryegrass and tall fescue don’t usually flower and release pollen until they’re 12 inches or taller. Grass pollen is usually too small to be seen.

  • Ryegrasses
  • Bermuda
  • Meadow fescue
  • Red fescue
  • Orchard
  • Prairie Koeler’s
  • Curly blue
  • Common Timothy
  • Soft brome


Tree pollen is very fine and powdery, and can be carried for miles on wind.

  • Oak mix
  • Arizona cypress
  • Walnut
  • Western sycamore
  • Olive
  • Eucalyptus
  • Elm


They aren’t just a source of frustration for gardeners. Many weeds, such as coyote brush, silverscale and the varieties listed here, can produce allergy-triggering pollens.

  • Sagebrush
  • Western ragweed
  • Amaranth
  • Black mustard
  • Wormwood