Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Friday, April 1, 2016

Cedar-Apple Rust Gall...or Not?*

You know how, when you see something for the first time, you start to see it everywhere? Well today, I was at Maymont, an historical estate in Richmond, Virginia. I was there to take what turned out to be an excellent tour of the mansion.  On my way, I noticed a weird, tentacled, orange glob hanging off of an Eastern Red Cedar tree.  I immediately knew what it was. You see, last year I had to take out my two pear* trees, which I thought were resistant to the cedar-apple rust fungus.  Unfortunately, all of the fruit on the trees were stunted and developed these orange tentacle projections on them, signifying infection with the fungus.  Usually, cedars, apples and crab apples are most susceptible to this fungus.  Whatever, my pears* got a hefty dose of it. Last year, I walked through the neighborhood looking for infected cedar trees, and found none. However, this year the trees seem to be loaded with this fungus.  

For most of the year, the fungus looks like some sort of cone or pod on the cedar tree. However, after the first warm rain in spring, the fungal spore-bearing parts of the gall emerge.  The fungus has a complicated lifestyle, involving transfer back-and-forth from cedar trees to apple trees.  

The treatment for this fungus is two-pronged: first, remove all cedar trees in the vicinity. Of course, this was impossible, as the Eastern Red Cedar grows prolifically in this area in Virginia. The second involves the use of antifungal sprays.  Unfortunately, I was unable to keep up with the organic, anti-fungal sprays given the extent of the infection, which is why I had to remove the trees.

Wonder what it looks like? Here you go:

Weird, huh?  I may not like this fungus, but I can appreciate its strange that interesting looks. So, I am making "lemons out of lemonade" and will be creating a botanical drawing of the cedar-apple rust gall!

*Ah-ha! I did some more research!  While the above photo seems to be of a cedar-apple rust gall, my pear trees more likely suffered from pear-quince rust, which exists in both cedars and junipers!  Wow, a whole world is opening up to me about nasty fungi!  The fruit looked just as shown in this link, from the excellent Missouri Botanical Garden: 

I need to do more research!

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