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Wattles and sneezes

The rumour that wattles are one of the worst plants for hay fever sufferers is not warranted. While some people may be allergic to wattle pollen, most people are allergic to grass and other small pollens which are around at the same time but whose flowers are not as obvious as the brilliant wattle. Spring time might be wattle time, but so is it grass pollen season. People notice the yellow wattle and do not notice the insignificant grasses in flower at the same time. Grasses are wind pollinated and their pollens get up peoples' noses quite easily. Wattles are not wind pollinated. In fact wattle pollen is relatively heavy. Wattle pollen is found in clumps of perhaps 4, 8, 16, and 32 individual pollen grains. These pollen clumps are called polyads, and are not designed to float in the wind. The great botanist of Australia Baron Ferdinand von Mueller was the first to write about wattle polyads in 1887. The Baron was a remarkable man, and observed plants very carefully. He liked wattles. While the Baron thought that wattles extended their 'gayness and loveliness over vast pristine places', he could see them disappearing from the countryside too quickly. Can you see any wattle loveliness from your window?

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Wattle you know wattle you do?

  • Have a closer look at pollen. Be a researcher like Baron Von Mueller above and stain/view/draw wattle parts including pollen using a monocular microscope. Palynology is the study of pollen grains. Pollens are like the fingerprints of a species. What pollen grain types can you find. Compare wattle pollen with eucalypt and pine pollen.

 

Page last updated: Thursday 15 December 2016