One of the characteristics of Belo Horizonte (besides bars) is the tree-line streets and in particular, the ipês, which are in bloom at this time of the year. Ipê is the Tupi name for this kind of tree; the scientific name is Handroanthus. I know that sounds boring to you, but it happens this tree was named for a Brazilian botanist, Oswaldo Handro. The other part of the word, anths, comes from the Greek word for flower. Flowering trees are good for us, even if we barely notice their artwork while rushing to get to work or to do our errands. At the very least, they unconsciously remind us of family ceremonies, parties, religious traditions, and romantic occasions. As you may remember from primary school, they also remove carbon dioxide and toxins in the air.
For some of us, flowers are also reminiscent of spring and sex, which is a good thing. All those bees out there are having sex with the trees and the queen bee is busy at home laying about 1,500 eggs per day The drones aren’t allowed to have sex with her, or anybody else for that matter. They’re a lot like the slaves in Game of Thrones. As far as I know, the only bees that have more than one queen exist in an exotic country called Brazil, where there is a species called Schwarziana Quadripunctata that has multiple queens who are kind of standbys in case something happens to the queen. They even have dwarf queens (again, think Game of Thrones).
There is powerful a person whom I’m deign to name who is often quoted as saying that global warming is a “hoax” or a “money making industry”, although he has also said he “believes in clean air, immaculate air,” which is comforting coming from any leader. Just for the sake of argument, let’s say he is wrong and global warming really does exist. According to believers, who also happen to be scientists, one of the effects of global warming is that a longer warm period kicks off allergy seasons earlier and makes them last longer. That’s bad news for everybody.
Having extended warm seasons means that the periods in which plants release pollen are also extended, which in turn means that the pollen in the air is also increased. Pollen causes allergies in humans because our immune systems see pollen as invaders. They contain the same protein sequence as parasites. That causes the human immune system to attack the pollen like any invader should be attacked, trying to expel it by sneezing, itchy eyes, runny noses, swelling, and other unmentionable things. And this expulsion is called an allergy.
If you don’t have allergies, don’t feel smug just yet. In general, the more we are exposed to an allergen like pollen, the more likely we are to become sensitized to it, and you could end up suffering noisily just as much as your annoying workmates or relatives. But it is not all bad, seasonal allergies are about sex, and even if it is plant sex, the change of season is always colorful, stimulating and good for our mental health.