Stuff I wrote elsewhere: plant sex edition

On the pollen count:

Unable to meet up in person, elm and juniper are among the many plants that have developed a decidedly unromantic reproductive strategy. They spew pollen into the air in search of a mate. A lot of pollen.
“The pollen is basically sperm,” explained University of New Mexico biologist Felisa Smith. “The pollen is basically out there cruising for eggs.”
Some plants tuck the eggs down inside pretty flowers, tricking insects to carry the pollen from plant to plant. But the sort of pollen that gives us itchy eyes and runny noses, the kind that keeps Gates busy, uses a brute-force approach.