Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cedar Apple Rust: A Funky Fungus!

During a break at my son's soccer tournament at the Barrie Community Sports Complex on Nursery Road, a friend and I took some time to go for a photo hunt.  My friend Donna used to work at the Wye Marsh in her youth, so knew quite a bit about the plants and flowers that we were finding in a small field.  She pointed out this weird fungus that was growing on a cedar.  It looked like an out of place orange sea urchin that was melting on the branches of the trees.  I had never seen anything like it!  After taking some shots, I researched this funky fungus to find out more.

So this gelatinous, orange tentacled ball of goo turns out to be something called Cedar Apple Rust.  It is caused by a plant pathogen known as Gymnosporangium juniperi-verginianae.  This fungus occurs in any location where apples, crabapples and the Eastern red cedar coexist. It has a very interesting lifecycle, in which the disease starts on the cedar tree, spreads through spores to apple trees, and then the spores from the infected apple tree continue on to infect more cedar trees. 

Here's a diagram form Wikipedia:

File:Cedar apple rust cycle for Wikipedia.jpg

Here are some of the photos I took of this alien looking plant fungus.  You can click on each photo for a bigger and better view!

I love it when I come across something in nature so peculiar!  Some of these galls were a little more gooey than others because of the rain.  One we found was dripping gobs of orange goo onto the ground like spilled jam.  It was kind of gross and fascinating all at the same time! 

There are a lot of websites out there with awesome information about this intruiging pathogen.  Here are a few that I found:

Cornell University:
ON Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs:
The Gardening Life Blog:

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