22357958For millions of people, allergies are no laughing matter. Allergies are not simply a bit of sneezing now and then; they are long days and nights of flat-out misery. Quite a few people have even died from severe reactions to allergenic pollen. In addition, there is now considerable data that demonstrate a powerful direct link between allergies and asthma-a very dangerous and often life-threatening condition. – Thomas Leo Ogren, The Allergy-Fighting Garden


It’s sexism. Botanical sexism, brought on by our modern manipulation of plant genders. In other words? It’s the male’s fault. In the 1950’s, only 2-5 percent of US citizens suffered allergies. By 1999? 38%. Even scarier, asthma is growing 2-3 percent annually – and is reaching epidemic proportions. Why? Human laziness and greed. You see, asexual propagation is easier, quicker and cheaper – and creates consistent male plants. And while male plants are not “messy” – not producing fruits, seeds or seedpods, what they do produce is a lot of allergenic pollens. More pollen – more allergies.

The Allergy-Fighting Garden is very well laid out. From the “why” and “how” of male plants, through why planting your own garden and trees as females instead of male helps your allergies, even though your neighbors don’t, there is wide-ranging information included in the first part of the book. There is even information on ‘sex-changing’ your trees!

Past the technical portions of the book’s beginning the book discusses OPALS: the Ogren Pollen Allergy Scale. From 1 for least allergenic to 10 for most allergenic, the OPALS rating system is utilized throughout the book. From this point the book becomes a plant dictionary, listing Latin and common plant names, OPALS numbers for male and female plants, and clear descriptions – including warnings if particular plants are poisonous, such as Lupinus, common name Lupine, which is poisonous in all forms, and even more so for people who have peanut allergies.

Overall, this is going to be my one “go-to” book for pertinent and useful information laid out in easily researched form. Highly recommended, even if you don’t suffer from allergies.

I received The Allergy-Fighting Garden from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

About The Author:

THOMAS LEO OGREN has a master’s degree in agricultural science and is the creator of the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale (OPALS), a plant-allergy ranking system now used by the United States Department of Agriculture. He is a horticulturist and allergy researcher as well as a former landscape gardening instructor, nursery owner, and gardening radio show host. He lives in San Luis Obispo, California.