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Cedar-apple rust and related rust diseases

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Quick facts

  • Cedar-apple rust and three related rust fungi need plants from two plant families to complete their life cycle; Cupressaceae family (eastern red cedar and other junipers) and Rosaceae (apple, hawthorn, serviceberry).
  • Bright orange to red leaf spots occur on trees and shrubs in the Rosaceae family (apple, hawthorn, serviceberry, etc.).
  • Hardy woody galls, witches brooms and swollen stems covered in gummy orange fungal growth in spring occur on juniper and eastern red cedar.
  • Cedar-apple rust and related rust fungi rarely cause serious damage to their hosts and do not require management.
  • Do not plant eastern red cedar and juniper within a few hundred yards of plants from the Rosaceae family (apple, crabapple, hawthorn, serviceberry etc.)
  • Some disease resistant varieties are available.  

How to identify rust

These diseases require plants from two different families in order to complete their life cycle; one plant from the Cupressaceae family (red cedar, juniper) and the other from the Rosaceae family (crabapple, hawthorn, serviceberry). Symptoms are very different on each type of plant.

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Managing rust

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Rebecca Koetter and Michelle Grabowski, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2018

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