What is the plane tree?
It is a leafy tree belonging to the Platanaceae family, known as shade plane tree (Platanus hispanica), also called Platanus hybrida or Platanus acerifolia.
In Spain it is considered an urban tree. It has been cultivated in groups or lined up along promenades and avenues. It can reach heights above 30 meters. It has a fast growth and tolerates polluted atmospheres such as those of some Spanish cities. It is estimated that under suitable conditions it can live up to 300 years.
How is it constituted?
It has large leaves, wider than long, arranged alternately, with 3-5 lobes. It has a hard, light, resistant and fine-grained wood that can be used in cabinetmaking and veneer. Its male and female flowers are on the same tree in a grouped way and hang on long peduncles. The fruit is a wedge-shaped achene grouped radially in spherical infrutescences as balls.
What is its use?
Its main use is ornamental, as a shade tree. During the last decades it is possibly the most introduced tree species in the alignments of towns and cities. This is due to its rapid growth, wide and dense crown, and low acquisition cost.
The plane tree is found in many Spanish cities being Barcelona and Madrid where their number is significantly higher. This is because in both cities it has been imposed as an alignment tree. The greater number of plane trees in these cities are directly related to the increase in allergic symptoms due to their pollination.
When does it pollinate?
The pollination of the plane tree is explosive at the beginning of spring, from March to May according to the latitude, climate and weather conditions of each city. In Barcelona, especially the second half of March and the first half of April.
A tree can release 143 billion grains of pollen. In 2013, in Barcelona, there was a high concentration of banana pollens reaching levels of 48,626 grains/m3 of air (data from the Aerobiology Committee of the Spanish Society of Allergology).
Has climate change affected their pollination?
The increase in global temperature due to climate change and the decrease in average temperature in the winter months is producing a delay in the onset of pollination and therefore a delay in completion, without modifying its pollination period.
What symptoms may you have?
The clinical symptoms associated with plane tree pollinosis are rhinoconjunctivitis and seasonal asthma that begins abruptly a few days after pollination begins.
The pollen level from which it is considered capable of producing symptoms in sensitized people is 130 grains/m3 of air.
If you are allergic to plane tree pollen, can you have food allergies?
Yes, but it doesn’t happen to everyone.
Patients with allergy to plane tree pollen may have food allergy to fruits (peach, apple, kiwi, melon), nuts (hazelnut, peanut) and vegetables (lettuce, green beans) among others; probably related to sensitization to LTP (Lipid transfer protein) which is a common allergen of plane trees and such foods.
Remember to request the assessment of your allergist if you present symptoms at the beginning of spring, from CliniCAL we hope to have provided information about plane tree pollen allergy.
Dra. Jaritzy Negrín González