Common Georgia Allergens

Just about everyone knows someone who suffers from allergies. According to a recent study, seasonal allergies represent the fifth most common chronic disease among American adults of all age groups. Meanwhile, Atlanta, Savannah and other Georgia cities are routinely cited as among the worst for allergy sufferers. That’s largely due to the fact that Georgia is home to a stunning number of plants that cause allergies. Some of the most common include:


Even if they don’t know it, most Georgia residents come into contact with cockleburs on a daily or weekly basis. These plants occupy poor, often acidic soils that aren’t kind to less resilient organisms, so they often pop up in empty lots or construction sites. While they’re annuals, they seed freely and have deep taproots that make them hard to remove. One of the biggest dangers associated with cockleburs is the spiny fruit that they produce. In addition to hay fever symptoms, this often causes dermatitis.

Coastal Saltgrass

Who knew that a lowly marsh grass could be the source of so much agony for coastal residents? As its name suggests, saltgrass loves salty, poorly drained soils and can produce huge amounts of pollen that carry long distances in the wind. If you live near a marsh, your allergies are sure to act up when these plants flower. Worse, this typically occurs during the cooler months. As such, saltgrass is a leading culprit of “off-season” allergic reactions.

Mountain Laurel

Northern Georgia marks the southern edge of mountain laurel’s range. If you live in the hills and mountains north of Atlanta, you know this hillside shrub’s beautiful flowers well. Unfortunately, those pink and purple blooms can cause fearsome allergies during the spring. In fact, the plant’s flowers and seeds are highly toxic to most mammals. While you shouldn’t ever ingest mountain laurel flowers, even slight contact can cause dermatitis.

Chinese Tallow Tree

Although it’s an attractive tree that’s often used for ornamental purposes, Chinese tallow tree can cause hay fever and dermatitis. Copious amounts of springtime pollen are responsible for the former, and the sap is largely responsible for the latter. Enjoy these trees at a distance!