AUSTIN — You see them covering the Central Texas hills and landscape...We call the prickly, green, coniferous trees "cedar."
Susan O'Donnell, senior biologist for the City of Austin Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, said the trees we call cedar are actually not cedar.
They are actually in the cypress family. They are ashe juniper.
"There's pollen dating back to the Pleistocene," O'Donnell said. "So, these trees have been here for a really, really long time."
Also here for a long time? Allergies.
"Early freeze and cold weather can act as a trigger for bringing on cedar pollination," Kyle Bartschmid, a physician assistant with Texan Allergy, said.
The allergy symptoms known as "cedar fever" usually hit a couple weeks after a freeze.
But because the freeze is coming early...
"That, in combination with the increased water and rain that we've been getting in the summer and the fall, can definitely cause more early onset of a cedar season and an increase in cedar pollination this year," Bartschmid said.
Texan Allergy said you can treat the "cedar fever" symptoms -- like a runny nose, itchy and watery eyes and fatigue -- with antihistamines or...
"If you're having a very severe case. You can in some instances, use steroids," Bartschmid said. "And then on top of that is the allergen immunotherapy -- allergy shots or allergy drops."
Ahead of the season, you can get an allergy test to find out exactly what you're allergic to.