Signs of spring

Spring is slowly, but surely, shuffling its way onto the mountain. It’s good to see the usual spring things beginning. For example, the crested iris leaves are pushing into the sunlight, the poke sallet is beginning to wave its green flags and cedar apple rust, one of the more spectacular looking plant diseases, is in full “bloom.”

We were somewhat concerned that the irises might not make it this year. With the hundreds of trees damaged from last year’s snow, and the subsequent efforts to trim and remove debris from the road, we feared the irises might be disturbed or buried under pine logs and brush. It was great to see yesterday that those leaves had emerged.

The blob

When I was a kid, the 1958 Steve McQueen movie, “The Blob,” was terrifying. At some point, you get older and realize the horror of the big, gooey monster is just fiction, confined to the big screen. But then, you get even older and realize the blob does exist, and it’s called cedar apple rust. As diseases go, it’s pretty spectacular looking, sort of spider chrysanthemum meets orange Jell-o, all activated by the spring rain.

However its fungal glory is short-lived. A week later, the stars were dried and droopy.

FUNGUS -- One of the larger fungal "stars" of the cedar apple rust that's infected an eastern red cedar on the hill.

 

BRANCHING OUT -- Though the "stars" are the most notable part of this infection, there are more modest blobs on inner branches.

 

A WEEK LATER -- The fungal spore horns shrivel.