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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Tuesday - June 12, 2007

From: Greensboro, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Care of butternut trees (Juglans cinerea) with bumpy growths
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have two small butternuts, around 3-4 feet. One has developed very 'bumpy' reddish growths on the leaves that are actually stunting their growth. What do you think it is and what can i do to stop it?

ANSWER:

The population of butternut trees (Juglans cinerea) in Canada and the United States is being severely threatened by a fungal disease, butternut canker, Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum, but from your description this doesn't sound like your trees' problem. The bumpiness you describe sounds like work of an insect or other small invertebrate such as the eriophyid mite, Aceria cinereae. The bumps these creatures create on leaves are called galls. In general, leaf galls do no serious harm to trees, though they may cause rather unsightly deformities. Some serious infestations can cause significant leaf-drop, but otherwise healthy trees will produce new leaves and show little ill-effect. Another possibility is the walnut anthracnose or leaf blotch (Gnomonia leptostyla or Marssonia juglandis).

Considering the increasing rarity of the butternut tree, you would be well-advised to seek the help of a certified arborist to help you decide how to treat the disease and save your trees.


 

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