Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Landscape - Witches' Brooms

Witches" Broom is a term to describe a certain growth abnormality in plants and can have a number of causes. The following is more information.

The development of witches’brooms on woody plants and the resulting formation of abnormal growth can cause curiosity and concern to your clients. Typically, the new growth is distorted and a proliferation of leaves or fruit/cones closely clumped together appears when apical dominance is lost. Witches’ Brooms are created on plants when the transfer of growth hormones is disrupted (perhaps caused from the introduction of a foreign substance). Insects (e.g., aphids), fungi, bacteria, phytoplasmas, and herbicides have all been implicated in causing the formation of witches’ brooms in a large number of plant species. It is interesting to note that sub-lethal doses of glyphosate (Round-Up) when applied late in the season can cause witches’ brooms on new plant growth the following spring.

Witches' broom. Photo from University of Georgia Plant Pathology Archive, University of Georgia,

Information from the September 3, 2009 edition of the Plant & Pest Advisory, Landscape, Nursery & Turf Edition from Rutgers University

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