The Italian Almanac

cypress trees

Italian Science - April 15

Italian scientists are leading the way in creating cypress trees whose sweet scent no longer poses health problems in spring time. "We're part of a European programme against pollen allergies that cause sneezing fits, rashes and blisters," said the head of the Italian Institute of Plant Protection (IPP), Paolo Raddi.

Raddi's lab, which has been crossing cypresses for years to produce clones with a low pollen content, was asked to take a look at 100 cypress clones engineered to be resistant to tree cancer, selecting the most allergy-friendly ones. "We've reduced the sample to the most promising four. Their pollen production appears to be really low, and, what's more, their flowering period is really short, concentrated into a few days".

The IPP has now moved on to "innovative" research into the anatomy of cypress pollen, Raddi said. "It looks really promising".