Wednesday, 13 February 2008

First excitement of the new year

Well, I suppose it all comes down to what you term 'excitement'.....

I was making a quick visit to Drumboe Wood in Ballybofey today and I took some pictures of various parasites on Holly (Leaf-miners, weevils, that sort of thing). Suddenly I noticed this fungal rust on a few of the leaves and thought "Hmmm...never seen a rust on Holly before".

It looks very much like Puccinia-type rusts, but when I got back to the reference books I found:

  • there are no documented fungi that grow on healthy Holly leaves
  • there are no documented Puccinias that grow on Holly at all.

After consultation and internet research, it turns out that a new Holly Puccinia was discovered in Europe in 1977, so I need to track down its specification and see if it matches what I have.

Another possibility was the Phycopeltis algal infection that can grow on Holly leaves, but that's only on the surface: this clearly goes into the leaf, as evidenced by the dark ring around the infection.

It's an Irish first, whatever it is.

This is the kind of thing that keeps me going: amateurs can still discover new things in new places....wonderful.


Gill said...

Hmmm - I'll have to look rather more closely at my hollies. I suppose that damage could be due to chemical spray, but it certainly looks like a rust.

I have noticed that the leaf mines are much more clearly developed than in summer - my guess is because the holly can't repair the damage as quickly when the sun is weak so less photosynthesis.


Dragonstar said...

Very exciting for you! My young holies seem fine - I'll be examining them closely!

Anonymous said...

Great observation skills! Seriously, it is through amateur observers that these developments are found. I also know the feeling of 'That's odd....?'