It’s more than just ragweed in the air this fall

Field in Central Texas (KXAN Photo/Tom Rapp)
Field in Central Texas (KXAN Photo/Tom Rapp)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Fall is a season known to Central Texas allergy sufferers for its abundance of ragweed, and depending on the weather, mold.

But another local allergen is showing up on KXAN’s pollen count for the first time in two years: marsh elder, a type of weed. It grows all across the U.S., but the four types found most commonly in this area commonly grow from northern Mexico to North Dakota. This week, Amber Brown at Allergy and Asthma Associates in Austin has seen types of true rough marsh elder and small poverty weed marsh elder. Narrow leaf and burweed marsh elder are also native to this area.

Marsh elder is thriving because we didn’t have such long dry spells this summer. This summer had more rainfall than 2015, and the pattern was also much more regular, with at least a couple of inches each month. After an astounding total near 9 inches last June, we received no measurable rainfall at Camp Mabry for 50 days. We broke our streak with only a third of an inch in August. This year, the rain has been more steady, so more marsh elder flowers have bloomed.

People who are allergic to marsh elder will feel asthma-like symptoms. Itching, sneezing, headaches, watery eyes and a runny nose are all common. People who are very allergic may have trouble breathing.

Marsh elder flowers from June to October. Wind carries its pollen, which means allergy sufferers could feel more uncomfortable on breezy days.

Between Wednesday and Thursday, Marsh Elder has nearly doubled and it’s expected to be measurable for another two to three weeks. Its distant cousin, ragweed, is a well-known allergy culprit. Ragweed will be medium or high over the next few weeks, too.

In fact, allergy sufferers are in for some more bad news over the next few months. Conditions for growth were so good this summer that allergists predict a bad season for red berry juniper and its relative, cedar. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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