Odd-looking fungus does damage to trees

Published: May. 18, 2016 at 9:32 PM CDT
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People across the Ozarks have started to notice a fungus hanging in cedar trees, and it's effect on other trees nearby.

It's called cedar-apple rust, and it can do real damage to trees.

It all starts with what's called a spore horn, a pod that makes its home on cedar trees. Then the pod sends out spores that infect other trees during the start of spring, and about this time of year you can see the symptoms.

"Browning of leaves, it usually starts from the tip of the leaf and works its way inward, but a real tattle-tale sign on those trees is also a leaf spot, and it's very distinct. It has an orange halo around the center black spot around on it, and that's very representative of rust disease," Cindy Garner said. She works with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Once you see the spots on your trees, Cindy says there's not much else you can do other than making sure you clear the leaves that fall off. But don't worry, it probably wont kill the tree, even if it does make it unpleasant to the eye.

"It does make them look really bad the rest of the year, because they continue to lose their leaves all season long that its going to die," Cindy said.

And if your Cedar has one of the spore horns, Cindy says you can just pluck that off.

"It's pretty gross to touch," she said.

In some cases the fungus can come back next spring. Experts say if you have trees with cedar-apple rust this year, spray the trees with fungicide at the start of next spring to make sure they're healthy.