26 August 2013
Yellow ‘dust’ only pine pollen
Yellow, sulphurous-looking dust making its annual presence known around the region – and once again getting up the noses
of long-suffering allergy victims – is just pine tree pollen.
Typically about this time of year the Northland Regional Council fields calls from people worried local industries might
be behind the fine coatings of yellow sulphur-like dust appearing on parked cars and floating in puddles.
Colin Dall, the council’s Consents/Monitoring Senior Programme Manager, says the dust is just pine pollen, a perfectly
natural phenomenon – albeit a very annoying one for allergy sufferers.
Mr Dall says the pollen appears to be more noticeable this year than previously but despite that, the council has
unusually received no complaints to date, something which may be attributable to increasing numbers of people becoming
familiar with what’s behind the problem.
“While pollen can be seen all over the north at this time of year, it usually generates more complaints in Whangarei
because people mistakenly assume it comes from industries based around the city.”
Mr Dall says pine pollen is just one of a range of natural phenomena which generate regular complaints or inquires about
suspected pollution in any given year; others include rotting seaweed, smelly mud, sea foam and iron oxide bacteria.
He says brief information about some of the most common culprits can be found on the council’s website via www.nrc.govt.nz/naturalphenomena
Meanwhile, council biosecurity staff say the pollen season is also a bonus for the region’s possums, which attack the
growing tips and protein-rich male catkins of pine trees, causing damage from which young trees may never recover.
They say with that in mind, it’s a good idea for landowners to concentrate pest control efforts around pine trees over
the next few weeks to target any possums gathering to feast on the catkins.