Petunias!

I walked through downtown Wooster, Ohio earlier today and was reminded once more of our debt to petunia breeders and petuniacal horticulturists of the past decade or two. Wow, planters and hanging baskets of incredible colors, shapes and sustained beauty throughout the summer. It’s bloomin’ crazy! The genus Petunia and its cousin the “mini-petunia” genus Calibrachoa rule. Both genera are native to South America and are in the Solanaceae (the nightshade family) with tell-tale funnel-like flowers: Some taxonomists even classify the two genera in the genus Petchoa...

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Jim Chatfield

Coneflowers Starting to Hit Peak Bloom

I love coneflowers and never seem to tire of all of the different cultivars on the market.  In central Ohio Echinacea cultivars are beginning to hit their peak bloom period and will continue to show off until late summer.  Some of the pests to watch for this season include Japanese beetles (of course) as well as one relatively new pest that has been wreaking havoc on coneflowers, the SUNFLOWER HEAD-CLIPPING WEEVIL.  This pest usually shows up in July, damaging the flower stems, just below...

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Pam Bennett

Squirrels Debarking Trees

Earlier this week, Dr. Mike Klahr (Extension Agent, Horticulture, Boone County Cooperative Extension) shared photographs sent to him by a homeowner of bark stripping damage caused by squirrels on a honeylocust in a landscape in Boone County, KY.  Thanks to Mike, he and I were able to visit the site yesterday so I could take photos to illustrate this report.  We found that all of the debarking damage seemed to be focused on a single tree; we could not find damage on other trees on the property as well as on trees in neighboring properties including on a large oak that had a squirrel leaf-...

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Joe Boggs

Cicadas and Conifers

Last week, driving along I-71 in northeast Ohio with an entomologist friend Dan Herms, we noticed small areas of browning on trees, including honeylocusts, that we passed while I was driving the legal speed limit. Unthinkingly, on the fly, I mentioned that it looked like mimosa webworm damage was showing up. Politely, Dan pointed out that that the many species of trees, from oaks to honeylocusts, from hickories to maples and many more, were exhibiting flagging from – cicada damage. Duhh, having seen and heard cicadas in this Medina/Lorain County area, I should have known. Damage on these...

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Jim Chatfield

Red Milkweed Beetles

Brightly colored Red Milkweed Beetles (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) are easy to find as they mate and feast on milkweed in southern Ohio. These orangish-red, tubular-shaped 3/8 - 1/2" long beetles sport an odd feature that is clearly described by their scientific name.
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Joe Boggs

Beautiful Beetles on Dogbane

Earlier today, I came across one of the most beautiful beetles found in Ohio.  The beetle lacks a common name, but is generally referred to as the "Dogbane Beetle" because it primarily feeds on dogbane.  The beetle's scientific name is Chrysochus auratus, which loosely translates to "made of gold."  Indeed, these beautiful iridescent beetles may look like gleaming spots of gold on the leaves of dogbane, or they may blaze with an array of other shimmering colors depending on your angle to the beetle.  A slight change in viewing angle will cause the beetles to glisten with multiple...

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Joe Boggs

Suction-Cups on the Bottom of Oak Leaves

I'm always amazed at how the population densities of certain gall-making wasps on oak seem to synchronize over wide geographical areas so that large numbers of the same gall appears over a wide region.  I don't know how they do it.  These are very tiny insects and they have an intimate relationship with their host trees; it's best for them not to stray too far. 

 

Oak button galls on white oak are very common this season throughout southwest Ohio; I even spotted some on oaks in central Indiana.  The galls are produced by the gall wasp, Neuroterus umbilicatus (...

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Joe Boggs

Quercus Quest

A great value added travel joy to the nature and nurture plants-persons within us is trying to figure out the identity of unfamiliar plants. At a Vermont rest area this weekend there were some beautiful oaks (Quercus spp.) with long, maybe 10” long, leaves.  They were in the white oak group, which is a group of oaks with rounded leaf lobes and acorns that develop in one year. Oaks in this group do tend to hybridize readily with each other, but not hybridize with the red/black oak group that have bristle hairs on the tips of the leaf lobes, and which take two years to develop...

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Jim Chatfield
Kathy Smith
Marsonnina Leaf Spot Diagnostics chatfield.1 Sun, 06/26/2016 - 19:10

Marsonnina leaf spot of aspen is something I used to see out West when I lived and worked in Colorado, and maybe once or twice in Ohio, but the example I saw yesterday in Vermont was more about diagnostics. As you can see from this image the Marsonnina fungus causes considerable leaf blotch damage on aspen leaves. Note the pattern however.  The fungus overwinters on twigs and buds and then infects leaves during cool, wet conditions at first leaf emergence. Typically, and as seen here, damage is less or non-existent on subsequent leaf emergence. This pattern is common with many (...

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Jim Chatfield