Blueberry Witches Broom

Witches Broom Pucciniastrum goeppertianum (fungus)

This affliction demonstrates itself through a distorted shoots and a proliferation of small and frequent leaves. The stems become glossy and often reddish brown, and the foliage often yellowish.  The ropey grown eventually becomes brittle and dies. The disease is systemic and knows no cure. The protocol upon finding an infected plant is to remove it, since no degree of pruning will help. It does not spread from blueberry to blueberry, but only from the intermediate host to the blueberry itself. The intermediate host is the Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea). The infected fir needles support the fungus which releases spores in mid summer which then affect the blueberry. This becomes perrenial in the blueberry and in turn releases spores that infect neighboring firs. Although it is recommended to avoid blueberry planting within 500 feet of firs, it is often impractical. Diligence in locating affect plants (both fir and blueberry) and roguing out those individuals is important. The distortions from which the disease gets its common name, are apparent. (see photo)

witches broom affect fir