Updated 22 November 2019

Pollen update: Late tree pollen season surge continues in Pretoria

While pollen levels stayed relatively low countrywide again, the late tree pollen season surge continued in Pretoria.

Amid the highest recorded pollen counts in history, Health24 will be bringing you exclusive pollen count updates courtesy of the UCT Lung Institute's Allergy and Immunology Unit.

Here are the major city updates for 21 November:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

Projected counts have been calculated from the sampling years 2008-2019 from this site. According to weather patterns, grasses are low or moderate but decreasing, tree pollen is low and trees usually seen at in the second and third week of November include: rhus/searsia, white stinkwood, eucalyptus, olive, pine and yellowwood.

Weeds would be: Erica, daisy and English Plantain. High Alternaria counts are likely to have occurred as this ‘dry air spore’ peaks in November when rain is absent as experienced in Cape Town during this sampling period.

Count: 16 (moderate) [Last week: 3 (low)]

Johannesburg  (Gauteng)

Fungal spores were consistently low at this sampling site. Trees were low but low counts for several trees appeared and these were: Birch, cypress, ash, eucalyptus, plane and oak. No grasses or weeds/herbaceous shrubs were detected.

Count: 6 (moderate) [Last week:3 (low)]

Pretoria (Gauteng)

The late tree pollen season surge continues with an increase in high overall levels. The main tree pollens being detected were mulberry and eucalyptus. However, we also detected a large variety of pollen including Oak, acacia, ash, birch, bush willow, pine, rhus/searsia, pine, white stinkwood, yellowwood and also jacaranda. Weed pollen including goosefoot, daisy, Euphorbia and Caryophyllaceae, of the carnation family was seen. Mould concentrations were low.

Count: 26 (high) [Last week: 46 (high)]

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

The fungal spore counts were uniformly low throughout this sampling period. Grasses were a constant low presence in the air. Tree pollen was low and consisted of eucalyptus, cypress, bush willow, buddleja, pine, yellowwood, oak, white stinkwood and rhus/searsia. No weed pollen was detected.

Count: 9 (moderate) [Last week: 16 (moderate)]

Kimberly (Northern Cape)

The mould count was low but increased slightly after rain. No significant values were recorded. Low levels of grasses and the trees, pine and olive were detected in the ambient air and occasional grains of the weeds: English Plantain and daisy were seen.

Count: 2 very low [Last week: 1 (very low)]

Durban (KZN)

The mould count diminished during this sampling period but remains high at >9000 spores/cu M/day. A new fungal spore, stachybotrys was identified at this site. Pollen levels were uniformly low and consisted of low grass levels, low trees (cypress, eucalyptus, mulberry) and weeds/herbaceous shrubs (euphorbia, daisy and fern).

Count: 3(very low) [Last week: 2 (very low)]

Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape)

Fungal spore levels increased after rain as ascospore levels rose but the fungal spore average remained low. Pollen levels were low and consisted of grasses and the trees: Eucalyptus, Podocarpus, acacia and cypress and Arecaceae, or African palm, identified by the PE team. Of the weeds/herbaceous shrubs, daisies, euphorbias and English Plantain were seen.

Count: 4 (low) [Last week: 2 (very low)

See the full report HERE.

Reference ranges:

Overall, Trees, Grasses and Weeds all use the same values (grains per cubic metres of air)

Overall count is the daily average of pollen grains per cubic metres of air (trees plus grasses plus weeds)

In partnership with the the UCT Lung Institute's Allergy and Immunology Unit.

As the pollen problem worsens, precise and expanded monitoring becomes even more essential. And here's how you can help.

Image credit: Mak, Unsplash


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Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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