Tis the Season: Pine Pollen Blankets Big Bear Valley in Yellow

The male cones of the pine (here, a Ponderosa) produce the pollen that accounts for the yellow dust in Big Bear.

The male cones of the pine (here, a Ponderosa) produce the pollen that accounts for the yellow dust in Big Bear.

If you are plagued with the yellow powdery stuff on your car, porch or patio furniture, that is the seasonal pine pollen which, this year, seems heavier than normal. According to certified arborist David Yegge, who also serves as the Fire Fuels Program Coordinator for the Big Bear Lake Fire Department, “It occurs about this time every year and lasts about three to four weeks which, it seems, it is this time—and we can’t do anything about it.” The pine pollen, per Yegge, is produced in heavier amounts every seven years or so, though there are other factors that could account for the yellow stuff everywhere. “We think it’s more a weather-related issue,” he tells KBHR. “A cold spell in May, and freezing during the nighttime, results in that the majority of the male cones have all, at the same time, pollinated instead of doing it sporadically over a period of time. They all just pollinated at once and that’s not normal; we think it’s a result of the weather patterns in May.” CalFire Forester Glen Barley, who is the Unit Forester for San Bernardino, Inyo and Mono Counties adds, “There are a number of factors, such as wind conditions. The pollen matures in the male cones, which are small, purplish and about the size of the end of your pinky finger, in the lower level of the canopy in the tree branches in the bottom. When the pollen matures in the male cone and suddenly we get a wind event, all the pollen is stirred up. Typically in the Jeffrey Pine, which is the predominant species of pine here, we see a larger cone drop every two to four years, which could influence the pollen.” Barley adds that the pollen is less prevalent to the west, in areas such as Running Springs and Lake Arrowhead, due to moisture coming up and over the mountainside in the last couple weeks–moisture which didn’t make it all the way up to the Big Bear Valley. Though it appears we have more pollen this June, it is not so much allergenic as other, airborne pollens—it just seems more prevalent because it is more of a colorant. Per Yegge, “It drops right out of the air, unlike other airborne pollens, so it just drops on your car, roofs, everything with a horizontal surface. Pine pollen is a larger molecule, but it is not known to be highly allergenic.”

Pine pollen in Big Bear City, just after a rain on July 1.

Pine pollen in Big Bear City, just after a rain on July 1.

Related posts:

  1. Open Since October, Bear Mountain Resort Closes for the Season; Skiing and Snowboarding Continue at Snow Summit Through April 25
  2. Santa Ana Wind Season Brings Heightened Fire Awareness
  3. Weather in the Big Bear Valley
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