Michelle Grabowski, UMN ExtensionWhat's wrong with my plant?
A new Gymnosporangium rust has recently been found in the United States but not yet in Minnesota. Japanese apple rust is caused by Gymnosporangium yamadae. This fungus does not infect Minnesota's native red cedar trees but does infect Juniperus chinensis and J. squamata. Both of these species of juniper are sold as ornamental trees or shrubs here in Minnesota. Although Japanese apple rust is unlikely to cause any serious damage to junipers, this fungus also infects apple trees. At this time, it is unknown how the apple varieties grown in Minnesota will respond to Japanese apple rust.
To identify Japanese apple rust in juniper, look for round woody galls that are 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter. When wet, these galls become covered in a 1/4 inch thick layer of orange gelatinous goo. As this spore filled goo dries, it will become apparent that they arise from short orange projections, like small shelves sticking out from the side of the gall. In contrast, the native cedar apple rust galls produce orange gelatinous tentacles that swell to 1-2 inches long when wet.
If you suspect a juniper in your area has Japanese apple rust, please contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voice message at 888-545-6884. The MDA will contact you with further information in 1-2 days.