May 14, 2013

Hawthorn Rust

Bright orange swellings can be seen at this time of year on some Eastern redcedars and other junipers.  After a rain those small, translucent-orange galls with gel-like projections appear.  These weird galls are caused by an intriguing fungus that needs two different host plants to live!

Hawthorn rust galls on Eastern redcedar.
Photo take in May, Onondaga County, NY.

Close up of galls. (Click for expanded view.)
Photo take in May, Monroe County, NY.

In the spring the orange masses expand after a rainfall and release  spores that can travel though the air and only infect the leaves of a hawthorn, apple tree or similar host (see below).  Then in the fall, from spots that formed on the hawthorn or apple leaves, spores are produced that can only infect a juniper/cedar.  The cycle continues in the spring when you can see new galls on the juniper/cedar.  Although a problem for apple growers this rust disease does not cause serious harm to the junipers.   There are other rusts that can cause problems with junipers such as quince rust.

In addition to the foliage of hawthorn and apples this disease can occasionally affect the leaves of affect crabapple, service berry or quince or pear.  However this disease does not affect any other evergreen tree species.  Only  redcedars and junipers can become infected.