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The pollen count in the UK changes depending on the season, meaning that people experiencing hay fever, commonly known as allergic rhinitis, will be affected depending on when it’s time for their allergen pollination season. Hay fever occurs when the body releases histamines after you’ve inhaled pollen that is otherwise not harmful to the body. The immune system goes awry, making antibodies to prevent these proteins from spreading. In the UK, one in four people who suffer from hay fever is allergic to tree pollen. If you have a pollen allergy and suffer hay fever, you’ll notice that alcohol (beer, wine, spirits) worsens hay fever symptoms{1}.

When are pollen levels highest in the UK?

In the UK, pollen counts tend to be high in the warm months, like spring and summer. However, different plants pollinate during other times of the year, meaning individuals will suffer in varying ways. The exact peak, timing, and severity of pollen differ from one year to the next, and if you suffer from allergic rhinitis, you’ll have to keep a close watch on weather reports. From Kate March to mid-May, it’s usually tree pollen season. Mid-May to early July is grass pollen season, while weed pollen season runs from June to September. We will, however, break down the most common types of pollen that affect people in the UK and when you should expect the pollen count to go high.

  • Alder pollen: January to April (peaks in March)
  • Hazel pollen: January to April (peaks in February to March)
  • Yew pollen: January to April (peaks in March)
  • Elm pollen: February to April (peaks in March)
  • Willow pollen: February to April (peaks in March)
  • Poplar pollen: March to May (peaks in March)
  • Birch pollen: March to June (peaks in April to May)
  • Ash pollen: March to May (peaks in April)
  • Plane pollen: March to May (peaks in May)
  • Oak pollen: March to June (peaks in May)
  • Oil seed rape pollen: March to July (peaks in May to June)
  • Pine pollen: April to July (peaks in May)
  • Grass pollen: May to September (peaks in June to July)
  • Lime pollen: June to July (peaks in June)
  • Nettle pollen: May to September (peaks in June)
  • Dock pollen: May to August (peaks in June)
  • Mugwort pollen: June to September (peaks in July to August)

UK pollen count and time of the day

Pollen counts fluctuate depending on the weather, season and time of the day. Since we’ve already seen above how pollen count fluctuates throughout the year, we can look at pollen count throughout the day. Weather and temperature are essential factors to keep in mind when considering pollen count in the UK. On warm days, pollen counts tend to be higher since warm air rises from the ground up, taking pollen with it. Since this process will continue throughout the day, pollen counts are lower in the morning and rise, making them high in the afternoon. Even though this indicates that pollen count will lower in the evening, it’s only sometimes the case.

When you’ve had a warm day with a high pollen count, the air cools in the evening, and pollen lowers to the ground in a process referred to as a pollen shower. Because of this, it’s possible to experience hay fever symptoms at night or late in the evening. These hay fever attacks in the evening are likely to occur in urban areas since pavements and buildings give off heat, taking longer for the air to cool. However, if you’re living in the countryside, you’re in better luck. The air cools more quickly in the countryside; hence a pollen shower is likely to occur in the evening.

Grass starts releasing pollen at around 7:30 am, which can lead to allergy symptoms beginning early in the morning. However, trees such as birch release pollen in the afternoon, meaning you won’t be affected if you go outside in the morning. If the grass is damp, this means that pollen will release later on rather than early because water evaporates first before pollen gets the chance to be released into the air. In rural areas, you should expect evening pollen counts to peak between 6 am and 9 pm. But in the evening in the city, this happens upto midnight as it takes longer for the air to cool down. On sunny days, expect pollen counts to be high, whereas on rainy days, pollen gets washed away. On a cloudy day, pollen builds up to be released on the next sunny day.


Pollen counts in the UK based on locations

Depending on where you reside in the UK, pollen season will start at different times. For example, there’s a late start to pollen season in the northern parts of the UK, and it typically has less pollen. Urban areas in the UK also have lower pollen counts than the countryside. Inland regions have higher counts, unlike the coastal zone. To compare different areas, let’s look at Wales and England. In both parts, the grass pollen season begins in the first two weeks of June. June is a high peak season. A lower peak season for grass pollen happens in the first two weeks of July, after which the pollen counts diminish slowly.

These peak seasons in England and Wales could be masked depending on the weather in these areas, whether cold, dry, warm, or wet. The timing of both depends on the weather during spring and early summer. Lots of factors also determine the start date of the pollen season. For example, if there were lower temperatures in winter, the plants and trees would remain dormant for longer, even after the new year’s arrival. So, the lower the temperatures, the less pollen is produced. However, this can change if the soil and air temperatures are higher during spring than usual. Rainfall in spring also plays a significant part in the pollen count. A dry season minimizes the amount of pollen production. Even though pollen count depends on weather factors, it’s also notable that it also depends on how different hardy species are and how they’ll cope with a mixture of different types in one region.


Pollen allergy testing

Our Allergy Test Box Kit

The easiest way to manage allergic rhinitis is by knowing the types of pollen you’re allergic to. You can establish this by taking an Allergy Test. Once you’ve confirmed your allergies, tracking the pollen count throughout the season and finding ways to manage movement during high pollen count seasons is easier. Since there isn’t a treatment for hay fever, knowing your allergies and managing them is the best way to live a less hectic life full of hay fever symptoms. When your hay fever symptoms flare up and turn severe, it can affect your work or school. Taking control of your allergies begins when you identify them.



  1. Nihlen, U., Greiff, L. J., Nyberg, P., Persson, C. G., & Andersson, M. (2005). Alcohol-induced upper airway symptoms: prevalence and co-morbidity. Respiratory medicine, 99(6), 762–769.