Monday, April 23, 2012


Day 93
The Daily DuBrule

After a wonderful night of steady rain, I couldn't wait to go outside and see how my garden was doing. Imagine my horror when I came upon the juniper tree outside of my office window and found it covered from top to bottom with orange slime. Eeewww! I knew immediately what I was looking at and my heart sank. Cedar apple rust. When I lived at the beach, the eastern red cedar in my yard had the same problem. 

Cedars and I now realize some junipers are the alternate host for this fungus. Galls form on the plants. I admit I didn't notice them and I used this juniper to make a giant wreath for my front door at Christmas time so I was up close and personal with the foliage, that's for sure. When the galls mature, they swell up after a long,cool rainy period and produce, according to (the Missouri Botanical Gardens website, one of my favorite online references) "orange, gelatinous telial horns". I don't know what telial means but orange and gelatinous sure nails it. The creeping crud would be another way of putting it. These "telial horns" produce spores which infect apple trees and other members of the apple family. That is the second part of the equation- the fungus that appears on the leaves of these trees, which, according to "the leaves...will develop raised orange structures that will ooze from the center, turn black, and appear as black dots. In late summer, this area will produce the orange and brown rust colored spores that will infect the juniper hose, completing the cycle." Sounds wonderful.

I don't have any apple trees nearby, but I do have a pear tree directly across the yard from this juniper. There's a quince around the corner and many of my neighbors have crabapples. Way down the hill in the back, I can see a large, old apple tree in bloom. I wonder if it will be affected? 

Anyway, there's nothing I can do but stare out the window where I write this blog and watch these orange globs ooze and grow. I'm not going to cut down the juniper and if I cut them all off, there would be nothing left. Eventually they dry up and probably won't hurt the plant. I could try spraying the susceptible alternate host plants with copper but I know I won't bother considering how busy I am and how big they are. It's just one more gross, disgusting thing to observe in this fascinating ecosystem called my yard. 

1 comment:

  1. Eeeww is right. I cannot plant any crabapples or serviceberries around here because of all the junipers nearby. I tried a hawthorn, and the rust doesn't kill it, but it does not make for an attractive healthy tree. Other than unsightly oozy gelatinous masses on the junipers, the red cedars themselves suffer no harm.

    So I have learned to love the eastern red cedars for themselves. No pretty flowers like the crabs and shadblows, but the junipers attract cedar waxwings, and provide evergreen screening, and you just close your eyes when it's wet in spring and the gelatinous orange blobs are out. ick.