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The Pollen Section

Creating the Allergy-Friendly Garden

The Ogren Plant Allergy Scale** (OPALS) assigns plants a rating from 1 to 10, with 1 being best for allergies and 10 being worst. The following all fall in the 1- 2 range, except where noted.

Trees including maple, birch, alder, ash, elm, chestnut, oak and poplar are often pegged as allergy foes. But it’s the male plants that distribute the pollen; female versions of almost all of these trees are safe.

Allergy-Friendly Plants to Look For

BOTANICAL NAME /COMMON NAME

  • Lathyrus odoratus – Sweet pea
  • Thunbergia alata – Black-eyed Susan vine
  • Catharanthus roseus – Periwinkle
  • Coleus blumei – Coleus
  • Digitalis – Foxglove
  • Impatiens – Impatiens
  • Myosotis – Forget-me-nots
  • Nierembergia – Cup flower
  • Petunia – Petunia
  • Viola – Johnny jump up, pansy, violet
  • Brodiaea – Dlephant’s ears
  • Crocus – Spring-flowering crocus
  • Cyclamen – Cyclamen
  • Galanthus – Snowdrops
  • Gladiolus – Gladiolus
  • Hyacinth – Hyacinth (numerous varieties)
  • Gentiana – Gentian
  • Geranium – True geranium, cranesbill
  • Hemerocallis – Day lily
  • Hosta – Hosta, plantain lily
  • Peony – Peony
  • Physalis – Chinese lantern
  • Polemonium – Jacob’s ladder
  • Rhodedendron* – Azalea, rhododendron
  • Sempervivum – Hens and chicks
  • Fucshia – Fucshia
  • Hydrangea grandiflora – Big leaf hydrangea
  • Dianthus – Carnation, pinks
  • Papaver – Poppy
  • Begonia* – Fibrous or tuberous begonia
  • Rosa – Rose (numerous varieties)
  • Phlox* – Phlox

*Rated 3 or 4. Use sparingly.

** See The Allergy-Fighting Garden by Thomas Leo Ogren, a great book on this topic.

Next Page: Allergy Plants to Avoid

The Ogren Plant Allergy Scale (OPALS) assigns plants a rating from 1 to 10, with 1 being best for allergies and 10 being worst. The following plants were rated 6 or above by Ogren (except where noted), and should be avoided.

Allergy Plants to Avoid

Botanical NameCommon Name

  • Amaranthus caudatus – love lies bleeding, tassel flower
  • Chrysanthemum – chrysanthemum, daisy (numerous varieties)
  • Hydrangea paniculata & querciflora – pee-gee and oak leaf hydrangea
  • Thalictrum – buttercup
  • Aster – aster
  • Daucus carota – Queen Anne’s lace, wild carrot
  • Carex – sedge
  • Hedera – ivy
  • Artemesia – wormwood, tarragon
  • Doronicum – leopard’s bane
  • Alyssum – alyssum
  • Leontopodium alpinium – edelweiss
  • Ligustrum – privet hedge
  • Tanacetum – tansy, painted daisy
  • Cryptomeria japonica – Japanese cedar
  • Celosia – cockscomb
  • Echinacea purpurea* – purple coneflower
  • Syringa – lilac
  • Matthiola – stocks
  • Lavendula – lavender

* Rated 5. Use sparingly.

See Also:

Originally published in Allergic Living magazine.
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