Saturday, May 16, 2009

Have you seen...


Each morning, we gathered for breakfast under a small shelter at the edge of a nearby park. In the dark and dense fog, heavy eyes scanned only as far as the tables, set with food—and a coffee station doling out warmth, and life, to the 6:00 a.m. crowd.
By afternoon, on our return here, this large cedar beside the structure was catching the full midday sun—illuminated all across its great size.
And, orange balls, glowing.

It’s Cedar-Apple Rust.
And these great fingers, telia, extending from the purple knobs on every branch, reminded me of playdough squeezed through a child’s toy, extruded in long, cool, floppy forms.
This wet spring prompts them forth.

From them, the bright orange teliaspores will be carried, on a breezy day, to find an apple or quince tree nearby. In the fall, from lesions there, aecia, growing on the apple’s leaves and fruit, aeciospores are blown, back to cedar again—the cycle between the two plants completed in 24 months.

This tree is heavy beneath them.
Their soft, gelatinous strands, bending the branches low.
But I find something very strikingly beautiful about them.
Orange balls of fire.

Cedar-Apple Rust,
caused by fungal pathogen,
Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae

"Have you seen...." is an effort to discover the unusual beauty in things not usually appreciated for their beauty.

More information about Cedar-Apple Rust may be found here.

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16 comments:

Ginnymo said...

What a unique tree! I've never seen one of those. Love how you described it. You sure do know a lot about nature Nina!! I'm learning a lot from you..Thanks! Enjoy your day and weekend!

cestoady said...

I never realized that rusts could be so numerous and conspicuous --- and bright orange, no less. I have never seen this one and wonder if the orange attracts birds and /or insects that aid in the dispersal of the spores.

KGMom said...

Strangely beautiful-but I assume not healthy for the host plant?

RHCarpenter said...

And look at that orange base from which they are sprouting! Makes me almost want to paint...rust! Thanks for sharing this.

Michelle Johnson said...

What a beautiful, orange post. I've never seen these before. I agree with cestoady in that it must attract a bird or two. Have a nice day.

Charles said...

We have a rust that infects the spring beauty in our yard. I just don't know what other plant this organism infects.

Bernie said...

It is such a pleasure to see through your eyes Nina, you have shown me how to appreciate the unappreciated and for that I thank you......:) Benie

Heather said...

Fascinating, Nina. Isn't it amazing what damp spring air can bring forth? Have you ever come across this anywhere else other than your trip to New River?

Deborah Godin said...

I wonder if it eventually kill the host, as some greedy types do? It was a remarkable story, however, how the two are linked to each other at a distance through the rust.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

I'm guessing this amount of "infestation" is not good for the plant. I've read that the twig bearing the growth often dies beyond that point, so too much loss would be a problem, I would think.
I imagine it may be more a nuisance for apple growers, as the fruit is damaged on that end.

I have seen this in other areas, Haether--in fact, a tree down the road from me has just a couple.
Never this many, though.

along2481 said...

nice and good ficture....

along2481 said...

nice and good ficture....

scienceguy288 said...

I have not seen that. At least never noticed it. It is amazing how much we miss during all of our day to day lives.

dAwN said...

You always write so beautifully...the bright orange color of the rust is striking!

I have been reading all about the bloggers trip to Va..and I am thinking about going next year!
Guess who is still wearing his blogger button from Va? check out my blog..and see!

Mary said...

It's a very beautiful tree, Nina. The colors are striking and I'm surprised I didn't notice, at least in the afternoon!

Kathiesbirds said...

I still remember seeing this! Great post Nina!