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Issue Features
Discovery Magazine 3/1/1993

Hooray for Hay Fever!

Have you ever had hay fever? If you have, you know that your eyes water, your nose runs, and you sneeze a lot. What causes hay fever? Your doctor will tell you that it is caused by pollen in the air. Pollen is like dust that comes from plants. When this "plant dust" gets into your nose and eyes, it makes you sneeze and have a runny nose.

Why do plants make pollen? For a plant to reproduce (make another plant like itself) here is what must happen. Plants make young seeds, or ovules (OH-vools). By themselves, these ovules cannot make a new plant. But if these ovules are joined with pollen, then we say they have been "fertilized," and they can grow into another plant. It takes both ovules and pollen to make a new plant.

How do these two things get together? There are a few ways. First, some plants depend upon the wind. When the wind blows it shakes the plants. This causes the pollen to be shaken loose from the "stamen" (the place where pollen is stored). It gets into your eyes and nose, giving you hay fever. It is also blown into other plants, where it fertilizes the ovules and causes new plants to form. Second, some plants depend upon insects to carry pollen from one plant to another. Bees, for example, can carry pollen on their bodies. As bees travel from one flower to the next looking for nectar (the sweet juice in flowers) pollen sticks to their legs. When they land on another flower, some pollen rubs off and fertilizes that plant.

So, the next time you get hay fever, say "hooray!" You may not feel so good, but the pollen in the air means that more plants will soon grow on the Earth. God has designed our world so that everything continues to work just as He wanted it to (read Genesis 8:22).

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