It will be some weeks yet before we see the first Bluebell flowers but I found my first examples of Bluebell rust (Uromyces muscari) during today’s walk. One to look out for….
It’s Fungi Friday and, though this time of year is not what I usually think of as prime fungi time, fungi are always with us, around us, underneath our feet, in the air we breathe, and I did find some prime examples earlier this week.
The vibrant yellow-orange-red patches on these Stinging nettles are Nettle rust (Puccinia urticata), and there were a lot of them.
As you can imagine, they were not easy to photograph, particularly as the plants were swaying slightly in the gentle breeze.
Fortunately, I spotted a patch of Dock nearby and used a leaf of that to shield my fingers while I held the plants steady.
Now that the lush leaves of Bluebells are poking their fleshy heads above the soil, it’s time to check for Bluebell rust (Uromyces muscari), which can be found on native, cultivated and hybrid Bluebells.
I’ve been looking during my recent local exercise walks but have found most of the locals are rust-less, except in one location, which is where I found these examples.
This rust won’t affect the flowers, of course, and, as far as I’m aware, it doesn’t affect the health of the plant. In fact, most people won’t even notice it’s there but now you know about it, you might.
It may be the middle of winter – and chilly with it – but rust fungi can still be found, thriving on those plants that survive these cold temperatures. I’ve found these three in the past week, and I’m sure there must be more around. The good thing about rust fungi is that they generally only infect one species of plant so they’re easier than most fungi to identify – and that’s got to be good thing!
Melampsora euphorbiae on Petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus)
Puccinia lagenophorae on Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
Puccinia smyrnii on Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum)
If you think rust only happens to metal, think again. These are rusts – actually fungi – that cause diseases in plants; anything from trees and shrubs in the local park to the fruit and vegetables you lovingly tend in your home garden can be affected by rusts, sometimes fatally. There are around 7000 species of rust but they are more readily identifiable than you might think as many are specific to particular plants – often it’s a case of name the plant, name the rust.
Rusts are most visible when they form disfiguring spots on the upper surfaces of leaves, and pustules on their undersides, as well as on the stalks and sometimes the flowers and fruit of plants. Just like most other fungi, rusts produce spores, in this case in their millions from within the pustules. Though they are the bane of most gardeners, rusts can be interesting and attractive fungi to examine and study. The photos shown here are: Puccinia acetosae on Dock (Rumex sp.) (above), Puccinia circaeae on Enchanter’s-nightshade (Circaea lutetiana), Puccinia coronata on Creeping soft-grass (Holcus mollis), Puccinia magnusiana on Buttercup (Ranunculus sp.), Puccinia phragmitis on Dock (Rumex sp.), Puccinia poarum on Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), and Puccinia sessilis on Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum).