Problematic catkin season set to reach peak

Hu Min
People with allergies are being urged to take precautions as the dry, sunny and hot weather, coupled with breezes, is set to lead to an outbreak of catkins over the next two weeks.
Hu Min

The catkin season will reach its peak over the next two weeks when irritating white cylindrical flower clusters detach from trees and are blown across the city, Shanghai's greenery authorities said on Friday. 

The dry, sunny and hot weather, coupled with breezes in the following days, is being blamed for an outbreak of catkins which should last till early May, the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau said. 

People with allergies may experience coughs, sneezing and itching. 

Catkins come mainly from the city’s plane, poplar and willow trees. 

Shanghai has about 275,900 trees along streets inside the Outer Ring Road, of which 48 percent are plane trees with the percentage even higher in downtown Huangpu, Xuhui, Jing'an and Changning districts, which will be most affected. 

Since the winter, about 110,000 plane trees inside the Outer Ring Road have been trimmed to prevent them producing catkins, but about 20,000 have been left untouched due to restrictions such as space and traffic conditions, according to the bureau. 

Spraying, dust curbing and advanced sweeping technologies are being used to solve the problem but elimination of all the flying catkins is impossible, it said. 

Anyone with allergies should wear long-sleeved clothing, masks and glasses. If a catkin gets in the eyes, they should wash them with clean water or wipe with a wet paper towel. Cold compresses with wet towels also help relieve allergic reactions.

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