Allergy Asthma Respir Dis.  2015 Jul;3(4):239-254. 10.4168/aard.2015.3.4.239.

Pollen allergy plants in Korea

  • 1Division of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Pollen reactivity in respiratory allergic diseases has recently increased in Korea. According to changes in allergen sensitization over the last 30 years, tree pollen sensitization in the 2010s markedly increased in oak, birch, alder, and pine. The sensitization to grasses and most weeds in the 2010s decreased in comparison with the 90s results. Oak Pollen allergens have increased in air during the last 30 years, and this increment has been correlated with increased oak reactivity. The number of birch trees is not so many as oak, but skin reactivity to birch pollen is as same as that to oak pollen. Because there are many chestnut near the residence, sensitization to Castanea spp. has to be evaluated. Maidenhair tree and Japanese elm are regarded as offending allergens of pollenosis. There are many maindenhair trees (Ginkgo biloba) and Japanese elm (Zelkova serrata) on streets and in park areas, and they produce a large amount of anemophilous pollen in spring. There is little wide grassland in Korea except the rice fields. Therefore, we do not have dominant grasses for pollenosis. There are a few peculiar grasses, such as orange foxtail, common reed, Korean lawn grass, Chinese silver grass, and green bristle grass. These pollens should be evaluated for cross-allergenicity with known allergenic pollens, such as timothy and Bermuda grass. In Korea, sagebrush, ragweed, and hop Japanese are prominent plants in autumn. Chrysanthemum spp. should be further evaluated because of persistently increased sensitization during the last 30 years, which are widely distributed in wild fields and bloom massively during late autumn. Recent climate changes and air pollution increase pollen production and alter pollen allergenicity. Therefore, continuous monitoring of plant ecology and pollen sensitization is necessary in effectively controlling pollen allergy for human health.


Allergy; Allergens; Pollen; Plants; Sensitization

MeSH Terms

Air Pollution
Asian Continental Ancestry Group
Citrus sinensis
Climate Change
Ginkgo biloba
Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal*


  • Fig. 1 Monthly Distribution of total pollen counts in air shows two peaks in a year. Adapted from Park et al. Korean J Agric For Meteorol 2008;10:167-76, with permission of Korean Society of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.20)

  • Fig. 2 Thirty-four tree pollens were photographed on 1,000-fold magnification after staining with Calberla's solution. The size mark of 50 micrometer is at T1. (T1) 은행나무, Ginkgo biloba; (T2) 일본잎갈나무 Larix kaempferi; (T3) 독일가문비나무 Picea abies; (T4) 소나무 Pinus densiflora; (T5) 스트로브잣나무 Pinus strobus; (T6) 삼나무 Cryptomeria japonica; (T7) 낙우송 Taxodium districhum; (T8) 향나무 Juniperus chinensis; (T9) 서양측백나무 Thuja occidentalis; (T10) 호두나무 Jugulans regia; (T11) 미루나무 Populus deltoides; (T12) 버드나무 Salix koreensis; (T13) 물오리나무 Alnus sibirica; (T14) 자작나무 Betula platyphila var. japonica; (T15) 서어나무 Carpinus laxiflora; (T16) 유럽개암 Corylus avellana; (T17) 밤나무 Castanea crenata; (T18) 너도밤나무 Fagus engleriana; (T19) 상수리나무 Quercus acutissima; (T20) 갈참나무 Quercus aliena; (T21) 신갈나무 Quercus mongolica; (T22) 느릅나무 Ulmus davidiana var. japonica; (T23) 느티나무 Zelkova serrate; (T24) 꾸지나무 Broussonetia papyrifera; (T25) 뽕나무 Morus alba; (T26) 양버즘나무 Platanus occidentalis; (T27) 아까시나무 Robinia pseudoacacia; (T28) 네군도단풍 Acer negundo; (T29) 단풍나무 Acer palmatum; (T30) 칠엽수 Aesculus turbinate; (T31) 피나무 Tilia amurensis; (T32) 물푸레나무 Fraxinus rhynchophylla; (T33) 쥐똥나무 Ligustrum obtusifolium; (T34) 딱총나무 Sambucus williamsii var. coreana.

  • Fig. 3 Twenty grass pollens and fifteen weed pollens were photographed on 1,000-fold magnification after staining with Calberla's solution. The size mark of 50 µm is at G1. (G1) 벼 Oryza sativa; (G2) 줄 Zizania latifolia; (G3) 뚝새풀 Alopecurus aequalis; (G4) 새귀리 Bromus japonicus; (G5) 오리새 Dactylis glomerata; (G6) 향모 Hierochloe odorata; (G7) 갈풀 Phalaris arundinacea; (G8) 왕포아풀 Poa pratensis; (G9) 갈대 Phragmites communis; (G10) 우산잔디 Cynodon dactylon; (G11) 잔디 Zoysia japonica; (G12) 띠 Imperata cylindrica var. koenigii; (G13) 억새 Miscanthus sinensis var. purpurascens; (G14) 수크렁 Pennisetum alopecuroides; (G15) 강아지풀 Setaria viridis; (G16) 수수 Sorghum bicolor; (G17) 옥수수 Zea mays; (G18) 애기부들 Typha angustifolia; (G19) 길뚝사초 Carex bostrychostigma; (G20) 송이고랭이 Scriptus triangulatus; (W1) 환삼덩굴 Humulus japonicus; (W2) 소리쟁이 Rumex crispus; (W3) 흰명아주 Chenopodium album; (W4) 댑싸리 Kochia scoparia; (W5) 털비름 Amaranthus retroflexus; (W6) 창질경이 Plantago lanceolata; (W7) 해바라기 Helianthus annuus; (W8) 돼지풀 Ambrosia artemisiifolia; (W9) 도꼬마리 Xanthium strumarium; (W10) 미역취 Solidago virgaurea subsp. asciatica; (W11) 구절초 Chrysanthemum zawadskii var. latilobum; (W12) 쑥 Artemisia princeps; (W13) 개똥쑥 Artemisia annua; (W14) 개사철쑥 Artemisia apiacea; (W15) 민들레 Taraxacum platycarpum.

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