What Are Those Orange Slimy Growths In My Trees?

We recently received this picture from Franchise Owner John David Andrus in Opelika, AL. He came across these bright orange, gelatinous-looking growths hanging from an arbor vitae on his property. He knew that what he was seeing was the gall from a disease known as Cedar-Apple Rust, but he never had seen the galls up close and personal.

orange slimy growth

Cedar-Apple Rust is an interesting disease as it requires two different plants to complete its life cycle.  On the cedar. Juniper or arbor vitae.

The disease develops a gall that is somewhat round, about the size of a golf ball, brown in color and has dimples on it.  During the wet weather of spring, the galls will swell and produce gelatinous tube-like structures or horns.

These structures will produce spores that are picked-up by the wind and moved on to susceptible apple or crabapple trees. These trees will develop small, yellow spots on the leaves soon after the leaves open. They will enlarge and become a bright yellow-orange color.

As mentioned earlier, this disease requires both an apple and a cedar or juniper tree to complete its life cycle. On an apple or crabapple tree, the infected leaves may prematurely drop. In late summer, small tube-like growths form on the undersides of the leaves. Spores from these structures are released and travel by wind back to susceptible cedar or juniper plants.

This disease’s life cycle takes two years to complete. One year it infects a cedar or juniper and the next year it infects the apple tree. Even though it takes two years to complete the disease life cycle, the disease can infect the same tree every year as many trees can be infected and the wind can carry the spores of the disease up to two miles.

There are control products that can be applied to stop the spread of the disease, but the trees should be sprayed every year. In most cases, the material should be sprayed when the flowers are beginning to drop their petals in the spring and when the leaves are beginning to unfurl.

If you have the proper equipment, you can do the work yourself. Just make sure you remember to read and follow all label directions before using any control products. However if this is not something you feel up to tackling many people find that it is easier to contract with a lawn and tree care company. For more information contact your local Spring-Green office.

An Arbor Vita in Distress

arbor vitae's

One of our Field Service Professionals, Trey Tefft from Huntersville, NC who recently attended one of my Professional Development seminars sent in the picture below of an arbor vita that he saw on one of his customer’s lawns. In the seminar we spent several hours discussing identifying indicator trees and the insects and diseases that affect those plants. Since our discussions covered arbor vitae he thought I could help him identify the possible cause of the decline of this particular tree.

Thank goodness for cell phones as they have become one of the greatest tools in helping me identify lawn and landscape problems. Many models have high definition cameras that can take phenomenal pictures at a very high resolution. They allow me to magnify the picture to easily see the possible causes. This is especially true when trying to determine if the problem is disease related.

arbor vitae

Trey also sent in a close up of one of the branches in hopes of giving me a better look at the issue. From What I could tell the only disease that could cause this specific sort of damage is called Tip Blight and the only insect that could would be a spider mite, which is not very common on an Arbor Vitae. Upon closer inspection, I did not see any indication of disease or insect activity.

I always ask for a picture that shows where the plant is growing to get a better idea of the environment where the plant is located. The majority of problems associated with trees and shrubs are related to poor cultural practices, such as:

  1. Watering
  2. Plant selection
  3. Plant location
  4. Poor planting practices

In the case of this plant, the problem appears to be more related to plant location and watering practices.
If you look at the base of the plant, it is surrounded by decorative stones, which are okay, but most plants will grow much better if mulch is used around the base of the plant. Mulch helps the plant to hold in moisture and as it breaks down, it is great food for the numerous microorganisms in the soil, which in turn, benefit the health of the plants. In my opinion, this tree is suffering from a lack of water.

Many of the branches on the arbor vitae are showing the internal needles and leaves browning, but the newest growth on the outside still looks good. Arbor vitae’s do go through a normal fall needle drop as they let go of the growth that is less efficient at photosynthesis. The browning in the picture above is much more severe than normal needle drop.

I spoke with Trey about this problem and he is going to discuss possible options with the customer. The good news is that they may be able to bring some of the growth back, but unfortunately once the needles on an evergreen turn completely brown, it does not turn green again.

Most coniferous plants do not have the same recuperative abilities of deciduous plants. The only option for this customer may be to replace the plant and maybe even change from decorative stone to mulch. By making this change the plants will surely thrive a lot more.

Do your arbor vitae’s look questionable? Contact your local Spring-Green before it’s to late.