Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Low allergy gardens

How many of you out there have children, partners, family, friends or perhaps you yourselves have allergy problems.
Well welcome to the club!
I grew up in a family where I and my sisters suffered from asthma and hayfever and that was in the days when asthma was relatively new. Allergies can be a hindrance to say the least and in extreme cases they can be life threatening. But how many people out there avoid native plants like the plague because of allergies.

The truth is, according to the Asthma foundation of Victoria, allergies are caused by plants that are wind born pollinators. In other words they rely on the wind to spread pollen.
Strangely many of these plants are northern hemisphere introduced plants. This I noticed when i moved from the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne to the northern suburbs. In the eastern suburbs one of the most popular street trees is the London Plane Tree or Platanus Hispanica, which unfortunately is a windborn pollinating plant, along with Elms, Maples, the beautiful Liquid Amber, Privet and many other popular European Trees.

For years I have heard many people blame natives for numerous allergy problems and I have done this myself, but while some members of the wattle family may be wind borne pollinators most Australian plants rely on birds and bugs to pollinate them or are self pollinating .

For a concise list of plants suitable for a low allergy garden contact your local Asthma foundation.
But here are a few hints. From researching this subject I've found that plants which have big showy, colourful flowers are generally low on the pollen and allergy count. This is because they are colourful and showy to attract birds, bees, butterflies and other bugs to pollinate them.
Plants to have in your garden would include:

Ground covers and small shrubs:
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Canterbury Bells
  • Juniper
  • Dichondra Repens- Kidney plant
  • Dichondra- Silver falls
  • Native Violet
  • Ivy leaf Geranium
  • Carpet Roses

Larger Shrubs
  • Escallonia
  • Correa
  • Eremophila
  • Gardenia
  • Westringia
  • Flax
  • Plumbago
  • Rosa species
  • Banksia species
  • Callistemon species
  • Weigellia

Trees and Large Shrubs

California lilac
Lilly pilly
Agonis flexuosa sp.
Prunus sp.
Magnolia sp.
Hydrangea sp.
Citrus sp.
Jacaranda mimosifolia
Crepe Myrtle

The key is to just remember how the plant pollinates and if in doubt do your research. Nobody should be deprived of the joys of nature due to Asthma, Hayfever or other reactions. There is always a way around it!


  1. While plumbago may be low in pollen production, many people have a contact allergy to the plant. You may wish to do a bit of research and remove it from your list.

  2. There are some general measures you can take to ease the symptoms associated with urticaria, like avoiding heat and staying away from alcohol.


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