Thursday, April 26, 2012

Creepy Orange Goo

Last week we had a long day with good soaking rains, and I knew that these creepy orange goo balls would soon appear in our cedars. Sure enough, I found them on the first red cedar I checked.

No doubt you're asking yourself what the heck are these things? Worms? Orange ectoplasm? Tentacled blobs from Mars?

Actually this is a plant pathogen known as cedar-apple rustGymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae
. The blobs are sometimes called cedar-apple galls. This pathogen alternates between junipers and apples, thus its name. Infected apple trees exhibit different symptoms, though. Infected apples merely have warty-looking lesions on the leaves and fruits instead of these shockingly orange, fleshy blobs throughout the canopy.

This particular cedar is simply festooned with the things.

Sometimes the galls look like orange snot on the branches. The gelatinous mess you see in these pictures sheds spores into the moist, humid air during rainfall. No doubt I was being bombarded by enormous numbers of infective spores while taking these pictures. Good thing I'm not an apple tree.

In a way, they are a little festive, no?

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