Ragweed is a weed that grows freely almost everywhere in the United States. It is most common, though, in rural areas of the eastern and Midwestern states, where the soil is bare of other vegetation, such as vacant lots and along roadways and river banks. Each plant survives only one season but puts out as many as 1 billion grains of pollen in that time.
The end of summer to frost is the time of year that the plant produces pollen. Exactly what time on the calendar that pollen production begins depends on the geographic location. Generally speaking, the farther north you travel, the later the production begins.
Once the pollen production has begun, ragweed season does not stop until the first frost kills the plant. The pollen is so lightweight that the wind can carry it for hundreds of miles.
Ragweed is considered the King of Pollen Allergy.
- Also called hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis.
- Ragweed is considered the most allergenic of all pollens.
- There are 17 different species of ragweed plants present in the US.
- At least 1 in 10 people in the US is sensitive to ragweed pollen.
- Ragweed plants live only one season, but a single plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains.
- Ragweed season is most severe in the Eastern and Midwest States, however, the plants can be found in every US state except Alaska.
When is Ragweed Season?
In the past, ragweed season began in mid-August and ran through September, but nowadays it seems to last 3-4 weeks longer, starting the first of August through mid-October. Many experts suspect changes in global climate are a contributing factor in these longer pollen seasons. The length of ragweed season is dependent upon warm (above 50° F), but not too hot temperatures.
- Nasal congestion
- Sleep disruption
- Red, puffy eyes
- Itchy throat
Severe cases can lead to chronic sinus problems and asthma attacks.
These symptoms are caused by body’s immune system reacting to a foreign substance, in this case, ragweed, that is actually harmless. Antibodies made by specialized immune cells mix with proteins in the pollen and cause biochemical reactions that flood the bloodstream with histamine, a compound which is responsible for your allergy symptoms.