Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nettle Rust

Nettle Rust (Puccinia urticata)

Nettle Rust (Puccinia urticata)

This photo was taken on July 7th. At the time, I was amused that something was attacking and twisting what looked to be a perfectly healthy (and nasty) Stinging Nettle. In fact, I thought it was some sort of caterpillar ... until I touched it and discovered it to be quite solid. Creepy.

Must be some sort of disease (evil laugh), I thought, as I put the photo aside.

Fast forward to my recent discovery of the realm of galls. Galls, according to Wikipedia, are abnormal outgrowths of plant tissues and can be caused by various parasites, from fungi and bacteria, to insects and mites. This has opened up a whole new world to me! As I googled the variety of galls one image leapt out at me - nettle rust! So that's what that creepy orange caterpillar-like thing was!

Nettle rust isn't a disease after all but a fungus. Well, no, not a fungus but a deformity caused somehow by a fungus. Puccinia urticata is the fungus' scientific name and, according to my brief study, is mentioned only in connection with Nettle (Urtica dioica).

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