Death by Witches’ Broom

Last year at the end of the dry season, when the record rains for the year had just begun, I noticed a parasite called “witches’ broom” (or, to be maybe grammatically correct, “witch’s broom”) on a nice little tree/shrub called Allophylus psilospermus. The tree most infested with these things was one I see every day out the kitchen window


This view of it was in March. In April I noticed the witch’s broom, and by June, this tree was the most heavily infested of the ones in the back yard. The witch’s brooms come in the green clumps and appear to infest the inflorescence. In the next image, the witch’s broom is the large clump at lower left, the inflorescence is at about 1:00 in the upper right.

The Second Thing-1

Wherever I looked in this particular tree, there were numerous clumps of witch’s broom.


Eventually the witch’s broom clumps turned brown and appeared to die off. I know nothing of their life cycle, so I can’t say what happened after that.

Third Growth-1

But I certainly know what happened to the tree so badly infected. By December, it was dead, or if not dead, then so heavily damaged that it might not survive. The other trees in the area have not been so severely damaged as this one, but none of them are as healthy-looking as they were this time last year.


Here we are in February 2011, and the tree still looks like this. I have little hope for it.

About Mary

I spent a few years at sea, and I never came back from a cruise without having learned something new about the ocean or what lived in it. After retiring to Panama, I began to learn something new about the tropical savanna ecosystem nearly every day I stepped outside. I focused on plants, those marvelous signs of life. Now I'm in my second retirement, living in Sicily. I'm leaving my plant studies online for those who have found them useful.
This entry was posted in parasites, PostAweek2011, Sapindaceae and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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