Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 18.12.2020

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Pollen are male gametophytes of plants. They are produced by seed plants for sexual reproduction. The size of the pollen grains is 10-150 µm per pollen grain, depending on the species. A pollen grain (oval or round shape) contains the haploid part of the genetic material of a flowering plant. The pollen of each plant species shows a characteristic surface structure of the pollen wall, which allows an assignment to families and sometimes even to species. S.a. tree pollen, herb pollen, grass pollen, cereal pollen.

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Depending on the type of pollination a distinction is made between:
  • pollen of anemogamous plants (wind pollination)
  • pollen from entomogamous plants (insect pollination)
  • Pollen from autogamic plants (self-pollination).

General information
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The pollen spread by the wind is problematic for many people with allergies. After contact with an aqueous phase, the pollen grains release a number of proteins, lipids and sugars. A specific immune reaction to some proteins and lipids develops, which triggers an allergic reaction. In the country, pollen concentrations are high in the morning, in the city in the evening. It is therefore advisable to air your home in rural areas in the evening between 7 and midnight, and in the city between 6 and 8 in the morning. S.u. Pollinosis.

For an allergic reaction to be triggered, it is not necessarily a high pollen concentration that is required, but rather the concentration of certain particles released from pollen, known as sub-pollen particles (SPP). These are easily respirable due to their small size. SPP of ragweed pollen have a size between 0.45-4.5 µm.

Clinical picture
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Pollen forecasts can now be obtained via "pollen apps". For Germany, the Foundation German Pollen Information Service (PID) compiles the mainly used pollen flight data with the help of about 45 pollen traps (so-called Burkhard traps). These are compiled for the 7 most important pollen species (hazel, alder, birch, grasses, rye, mugwort, ragweed) with the criteria - weak, moderate, strong. Free apps (here are some examples) can be downloaded under:

In Germany pollen traps are privately organized and operated. Since financing is still not secured, fewer and fewer pollen traps are being operated. A worrying development.

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  1. Bacsi A et al (2006) Subpollen particles of allergic proteins and oxidases. J Allergy Clin Immunol 118: 844-850
  2. Mülleneisen N (2015) Not only a must for allergy prevention. Allergo J 24: 44-45

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Pollen types


hazel, alder, depending on region cypress


alder, hazel, willow, cypress


hazel, alder, poplar, elm, willow, hornbeam, ash, yew, rarely thuja, rarely grasses


Birch, oak, alder, ash, lilac, grasses, hornbeam, hazel, poplar, rape, copper beech, elm, willow, meadow foxtail, Douglas fir, juniper, thuja


birch, oak, lilac, barley, grasses, oats, hornbeam, black elder, hops, pine, lime, sycamore, robinia, rye, rape, copper beech, ribwort, meadow foxtail


Nettle, goosefoot, grasses, hornbeam, black elder, privet, lime, corn, rape, rye, robinia, ribwort plantain


Mugwort, nettle, goosefoot, glasswort, grasses, privet, corn, rape, rye, ribwort


Mugwort, nettle, goosefoot, glasswort, grasses, maize, ragweed, rye, ribwort, meadow fescue


Mugwort, nettle, goosefoot, glasswort, smooth oat, grasses, maize, ragweed, ribwort, meadow fescue


Stinging nettle, goosefoot, glasswort, grasses, ragweed

November Rarely still grasses; mugwort, stinging nettle
December Hazel, alder (depending on weather conditions)


Last updated on: 18.12.2020