woman standing in apartment drinking from mug with captions about pollen


‘Men literally ruin everything’: TikToker blows minds with claim that botanical sexism is reason allergies are worsening

'So you're sneezing and congested all day because of botanical sexism.'


Kahron Spearman

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 9, 2021   Updated on Jul 13, 2021, 2:24 pm CDT

A TikToker went viral for her explanation on how “botanical sexism” coupled with climate change is the reason allergy and asthma symptoms are worsening.

Posted by @elliebotoman, the video has been seen 1.9 million times. It features @elliebotoman sipping a warm drink at home before having a light-bulb moment.

The overlay caption reads: “When you realize allergies/asthma across North America got worse [because] landscapers and city planners thought male trees were easier to maintain.”


tom ogren is credited for the term after finding only male trees planted in his community #environmentalscience #urbanplanning #climatechange #tree

♬ original sound – Jazzy Fizzle

The video continues with a broader shot of introspection: “And [because] they planted so many male trees, those species now release tons of pollen each year to compete for a few females.”

“This lack of biodiversity and climate change fueling longer and earlier pollen seasons has caused allergies and asthma rates to accelerate. So you’re sneezing and congested all day because of botanical sexism.”

The claim, first found in horticulturist Tom Ogren’s research, is valid. Per the Guardian: “Trees can be one of three sexes – monecious, dioecious male or dioecious female. Naturally, there is a relatively even split between all three, so the amount of pollen wafted into the air is regulated. But when dioecious males are planted independently of dioecious females, as often the case in urban areas, their pollen is unchecked by any capture by female flowers.”

Ogren found a remark detailing the botanical sexism in the 1949 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, reading: “When used for street plantings, only male trees should be selected, to avoid the nuisance from the seed.” Scientific American wrote in 2015 that “arborists often claim that all-male plants are ‘litter-free’ because they shed no messy seeds, fruits or pods.”

Ogren also told the Guardian that the solution—a better mix of trees in all three sexes—has been challenging to push forward, in part, because male trees have dominated nurseries across the continent, plus the U.K. and Australasia cluster.

Viewers are shook by @elliebotoman’s video and are remarking on how “MEN LITERALLY RUIN EVERYTHING.”

“Literally no escaping misogyny across any species,” commented @vegantatorthot.

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*First Published: Jul 9, 2021, 11:18 am CDT