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….
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.
Back in January I posted about the Cobalt crust-finding challenge I was taking part in with my friends from the Glamorgan Fungus Group. This month we’ve been at it again but our challenge species are rusts, specifically Uromyces dactylis (below right) and Uromyces ficaria which are both found on Lesser Celandine; Puccinia urtica (below left) on Nettles; Uromyces muscari (the other four photos) on native, cultivated and hybrid Bluebells; and on Nipplewort Lapsana communis.
Though finding and photographing the Nettle rust is more for the masochist than the faint-hearted – our group has joked about buying thick rubber gloves up to our elbows(!), the other rusts are less dangerous though no less of a challenge. I’ve had most success with the Bluebell rust – probably a reflection of the fact that everyone loves Bluebells so they’ve been planted almost everywhere, but have found only one specimen of one of the rusts on Lesser Celandine, despite the flowers being very plentiful and numerous in my local parks and wild areas. And I have yet to find a specimen of Nipplewort rust – probably because I have yet to positively identify Nipplewort (this is why I’ve taken up a botany menteeship!).
Still, just as we did with Cobalt crust, our group members have thrown themselves into this challenge and, to date, our combined total stands at over 140 separate finds. And, just like last time, our finds are being fed into our local biodiversity database so our challenge is helping to increase the knowledge base for these under-recorded fungi. Citizen science rocks!