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Systemically Infected Plants in Spring

Lets look at what aquilegia leaves SHOULD look like as they start to emerge in spring.


Normal, healthy, growth in these 1yo seedlings.

Green, spreading close to ground, and fairly large amount of leaf surface to stem length.

Again, normal, healthy, growth in these 1yo seedlings.
Let's look at other plants of the same age that are systemically infected with downy mildew.

More upright growth.

Closer inspection shows curled leaf edges.

Smaller leaf lamina (surface) to length of leaf stem.

Close-up shows curled leaf edges looking decidedly shrivelled.

left on the main photo, can be seen a very withered / disintergrated leaf.

The leaves here have a distinctly 'whiter' appearance.

Some leaf edges curl up and some downwards. 


This is to show that the 'curled' leaf edge in infected leaves is very different to the cup-shaped curling in normal aguilegia leaves as they emerge. The 'dishing' of the leaf surface is one of its charms... looking rather like an opening rose (or double camelia) in the middle  leaves of this main photo.

Back to infected seedlings. 

The leaf on the left is looking ok-ish, although you can see some leaf-edge curl.

However the one on the right (& close-up) is beginning to wither and die.

At a glance the plant looks etiolated or frosted, but in Swansea conditions, aquilegias are NOT affected by frosts. It may be that in more extreme climates, hard frosts MAY cause damage.
Again, an etiolated, frosted look.


 A very unhappy plant, looking perhaps, as if affected by weed-killer drift. 

Distinctive whiter-green appearance to the leaves here and above. 

Here the whiter-effect isn't so obvious, but a more upright-growth is.  

Plenty of distorted, dried-looking leaflets.

Totally burned, frazzled looking leaves on these two seedlings.

Not much leaf lamina left in the further photo. 
Now let's look at some larger, established plants as they start into growth in early spring.


Normal, healthy, growth. Thank goodness.

Green, spreading close to the ground, and fairly large amount of leaf surface to stem length.

Although there are somehealthy leaves here, there are also badly infected ones.

Larger, established plants have increased in size over the years and have many growing points or 'noses'.

Here it looks as if the meriostem of some noses are infected, so those new leaves show signs of systemic infection, yet other noses are, so far, free of the disease. 
Growing in a tub, this infected plant shows distinctive:
upright growth;

long leaf stem to leaf surface;


frosted, frazzled appearance;

and both curled and dying leaf edges.

....and some normal leaves near soil surface.

There are some things photos cannot show.

 The heaviness of my heart as I went around my February garden to take these photos, and the numbers of infected plants became apparent.  

....and the heaviness of my heart as I cut, paste images and create this webpage.

I doubt whether my aquilegia collections will survive.

Who will I be without my passion, my obsession with aquilegias?
Let's look a little further at one plant with these 4 photos: 

Can you see the relevant signs to look for?

What I found particularly interesting in this plant is (smaller photo) one leaf is not systemically infected, but the infection is lighter, whiter areas with angular edges. This means that this leaf was 'born' ok, but has since become infected.

Usually I ask you to look for YELLOWER patches, not whiter ones. Perhaps it is the effect of February temperatures? 
....and finally lets look at a partially (systemically) infected plant with another 4 photos. 

The leaves that are in focus look fine, tight to the ground. The top, centre leaf (out of focus) is taller and lighter.

Some infected leaves are dying back. Dead leaf material will likely harbour long-lived spores that will infect the healthy leaves.
But in this case I thought it was worth trying to save the plant by pulling off the infected shoots. In fact all were on one nose or root (there were several shoots coming from the root).

What I have in my hand is (lower and left), two shoots that I broke from the root, plus the larger, brown, root 'nose' itself that I dug down a bit for, and then pulled away the whole thing from the rest of the plant, to leave the unaffected part.

Will it work? I hope so. 

Visit also the main downy mildew information page, & how to spot downy mildew on leaves