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    Martin Oeggerli / Caters News

    Image: Geranium pollen

    Micropollen: The beauty behind your allergy misery

    Stunning up-close views of pollen grains captured with scanning-electron microscope technology reveal the beautiful reasons you sneeze.

  • Micro Pollen

    Micropollen: The beauty behind your allergy misery

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    Willow pollen

    This stunning up-close view of willow pollen was captured by Swiss photographer Martin Oeggerli using modern scanning-electron microscope (SEM) technology and colorization techniques.

    Despite its allure under the microsope, willow tree pollen is a common early-spring allergen, triggering sniffles, itchy eyes and misery in many parts of the world.

    Here, a grain of willow pollen has wedged between flower petals.

    Click for more beautiful reasons to sneeze.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Alder pollen

    Alder pollen is a common windborne allergen in wooded areas of North America. The pollen can be found miles away from their source.

    In some cases, people who are allergic to alder pollen can develop oral allergy symptoms when they eat certain fruits and vegetables. You may have this if you've noticed symptoms such as itchiness, swelling or redness after you've eaten a peach, apple, plum, celery or carrots.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Silver leaf oak pollen

    Pollen from a silverleaf tree has a sticky coating that bonds them to animal passersby.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Pine pollen

    Ever find your car coated with yellow particles during the spring? That's pine pollen, seen here -- a common allergen.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Forget-me-not pollen

    Grains of forget-me-not pollen are among the tiniest known, each are just five one-thousands of a millimeter in diameter.

    Forget-me-nots are considered a fairly allergy-free flower.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    White clover pollen

    No, that's not a French roll. It's the protein-rich pollen from white clover. These grains are an important food for bees, but they are a mild allergen all year long for many people.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Silk tree pollen

    Pollen from an Albizia, also known as the silk tree, have triggered some allergies in the southern United States, but it's not considered a major culprit.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Acanthus pollen

    Acanthus pollen is not a major allergy trigger, so the ornamental plant is often recommended for the gardens of allergy sufferers.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Geranium pollen

    Dozens of grains of pollen have reached their destination: a geranium flower's stigma.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Snowball plant pollen

    The gray granules are pollen from the snowball plant. One of them has begun growing a reproductive tube. The yellow grains are pollen from another species of plant that have missed their mark.

    Viburnum tinus, known as the snowball plant, is a good planting choice for many as it causes few allergy problems.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Quince pollen

    Pollen from a Chaenomeles, or flowering quince, lands on a target bloom.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Pistia pollen

    Pollen from Pistia, also know as water cabbage or water lettuce.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Venus flytrap pollen

    The pink-flecked pollen granules from a Venus flytrap.

    ZUMA Press / ZUMA Press
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    Behind the images

    Unlike pictures captured with a camera, SEM scans are based on particle emission rather than light -- they don’t show colors and patterns.

    By adding layers of color and shadows, Swiss photographer Martin Oeggerli, whose work has appeared in National Geographic, literally "paints the light" in these images.

    “Certainly, most of my works are inspired by science. But to be finally enjoyed as 3D-realistic artworks of the invisible, the originally black and white electron microscopy scans have to be painted with color,” he says.

    In this illustration of the process, the original SEM image of a wasp eye is shown at bottom right. Oeggerli's colorful processing is shown at top left.

    Read more about these images from the photographer.

    Micronaut.ch / Micronaut.ch