Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae

Common Names: Cedar-apple rust
Category: Fungi
Sub-category: Rusts

A fungal plant pathogen with a special relationship between cedar and apple trees. In order for the fungus to exist and continue, it requires both the apple and cedar trees. The spores release from the apple tree fungus can only infect cedar trees and vice-versa.

On the apple tree, the infections occur on leaves, fruit and young twigs. The brightly colored spots produced on the leaves make it easy to identify. Small, pale yellow spots appear on the upper surfaces of the leaves, usually during late April or May on the eastern seaboard of the United States. These spots gradually enlarge and turn orange or red and may show concentric rings of color. Drops of orange liquid may be visible on the spots. Later in the season, black dots appear on the orange spots on the upper leaf surface. In late summer, tube-like structures develop on the undersurface of the apple leaf. Infected leaves sometimes drop prematurely, particularly during drought conditions or when the tree is under additional stress. Infections on fruit are usually near the blossom end and are somewhat similar to the leaf lesions.

On the Eastern Red Cedar host, the fungus produces reddish-brown galls from 1/4 to 1 inch in diameter. These galls can be mistaken for cone structures by the uninitiated. After reaching a diameter of about 1/2 inch, they show many small circular depressions. In the center of each depression is a small, pimple-like structure. In the spring these structures elongate into orange gelatinous protrusions or horns. The spore-bearing horns swell during rainy periods in April and May. The wind carries the microscopic spores to infect apple leaves, fruit and young twigs on trees within a radius of several miles of the infected tree.

Found in virtually any area where apples or crabapples (Malus) and eastern red-cedar (Juniperus virginiana) trees exist neaby each other. Alternatively, quince and hawthorn can substitute for the apples as hosts and many species of juniper can substitute for the Eastern red cedars.

Edible Notes: Not edible.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.