Best (and worst) flowers for people with allergies
All hope is not lost – there are many beautiful flowers out there that even the most sensitive of noses can enjoy. Whether you’re looking for the perfect bouquet for an anniversary or other special occasion, or a simple floral pick-me-up, here are our tips on which flowers to avoid and which to embrace for the allergy sufferer in your life.
So, why are some people allergic to flowers?
Hay fever or allergic rhinitis affects roughly 1 in 5 people in Australia and New Zealand. It can be a debilitating illness, with common symptoms including irritated and itchy eyes, nose, throat and ears. Asthma, which is often linked to hay fever, makes it hard to breathe due to swelling in the lung’s airways.
Triggers for hay fever and asthma are not limited to just flowers but also some species of trees, weeds and grasses – perennial ryegrass in particular. This explains why spring and summer can be such difficult times for those with pollen allergies and asthma! The real trick is that different people are affected by different plants, so it’s not a one size fits all problem!
When plants are pollinating (releasing pollen into the air) people with allergies trigger a reaction in their immune systems. So it’s really the pollen that people who have allergies find troubling.
Do all flowers have pollen?
The good news for allergy sufferers is that many flowers are hypoallergenic, with little to no airborne pollen! The difference lies in whether the flowers are pollinated by wind – bad news for those with allergies – or by critters: birds, insects or animals.
Flowers that are wind-pollinated tend to be duller-looking, less colourful and not as sweet-smelling compared to plants that rely on other creatures for pollination. The appealing smell and bright colours help attract animals.
However, some plant species only produce pollen in the male plants. Without getting too technical, plants that contain both male and female parts – known as ‘perfect flowers’ – are a safer bet for allergy sufferers, as no air travel is needed for their pollination.
While it is best to leave the fine print to the experts, as a rough guide, hypoallergenic flowers tend to come with lots of petals and no visible centre (or stamen). Some examples of allergy-friendly flowers include:
· Begonias – especially Riger begonias
· Lilies – except for stargazer lilies (as these have a very strong fragrance that might be best avoided for anyone with a sensitive sense of smell)
· Potted orchids
As a general rule, allergy sufferers should avoid smaller flowers that appear in clusters. The worst flowers for those with allergy rhinitis are:
· Lady’s Mantle
· Ordinary sunflowers – you can get specially-bred hypoallergenic sunflower seeds but ensure you check with your florist
· Pussy willow
· Queen Ann’s lace
Also note that it may be a bad idea to buy cut flowers from a grocery store for the allergy sufferer in your life. These are sometimes sprayed with fragrance that can itself trigger allergy symptoms. It’s a much safer bet purchasing flowers from an experienced florist for that sensitive nose in your life.
Here at Sydney Flowers we are always flexible with our floral arrangements, and know how to work around any allergies and sensitivities. If you’d like to know more about our beautiful, hypoallergenic flowers, give us a call today.