Bad news and good news.

A few days ago we were walking round the garden and noticed that one of the Fuchsias seemed to have real problems with flowering. On closer examination the growing tips were curled up with the new flower buds curled into them. We then checked out another fuchsia in the front garden which had flowered. It was the only one we had with variegated leaves. But that too seemed to be infected. We had no idea what this was, so Robin had a look on the net.

Distorted growing tip of a Fuchsia plant
Distorted growing tip of a Fuchsia plant

Apparently it is the Fuchsia gall mite and has been written about by the RHS. It had first been seen in Brazil in the late 1970’s and has since spread to areas with warm climates, reaching Fareham on the south coast of England only a short time ago.

The only thing to do with it is remove it completely as removing the distortions doesn’t get rid of the mite and neither do pesticides – which we wouldn’t want to use unless there was no other way. When removing the plant, it either has to be burnt or got rid of safely – not on the compost heap. The mode of transportation is you and I, birds and the wind. Therefore we have to be careful that we clean tools, change clothes and wash hands after handling it.

I have just found it in the back garden too, but so far it has only affected one of the fuchsias (all hardy). Therefore we have to get rid of it as soon as possible. However, before doing so I thought I would take some pictures. The mite is 0.25 mm long, therefore too small to be seen with the naked eye. But I have one or two microscopes and have taken some stills and a short video.

First, two stills so that you know what to look for:

Fuchsia gall mite still_1 copy


The same gall mites taken within seconds of the first picture.
The same gall mites taken within seconds of the first picture.

I had hoped to show you a short video I took of a mite moving along a stem, but unfortunately I haven’t found a way to include it on a WordPress page. But needless to say, the mite is very bad news for those with Fuchsias at least living in the south of the UK . But perhaps this will be a warning to have a look at your Fuchsias and remove those infected as soon as you can.  This could minimise spreading.

Now the good news. The American Society of Botanical artist (ASBA) has its annual conference in Pittsburgh in October. I know I have mentioned this before. I was asked to teach and the online registration was opened on 23 July. I booked the workshops that I wanted to attend, but also checked out my own workshop.

I couldn’t believe it and I thought there was a difference between the meaning of the American and UK English words ‘waiting list’. I picked up the courage to ask and found that they meant the same thing. Already on the first day of registration, my workshop was fully booked with a waiting list! I have to keep my fingers crossed now that I can still get crab apples as subjects for the conference. At the moment, I have loads of different ones ripening here, but how they are ‘over there’ is another matter. Perhaps someone could tell me if they are likely to have any left at the time of the conference?

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 16.19.58

4 thoughts on “Bad news and good news.

  1. I would google farms in the Pittsburgh area and see what is around. The weather is warmer there than in England. Apples Etc do not usually ripen until late August onward so you should find out what will be ripe during the conference. At this time it has been rather hot and dry there. (My son lives in Pittsburgh) so I
    know what the weather is. Also we are having a drought on the east coast of America so that may also effect the harvests.
    Hope this is helpful.
    Robin Rosenthal asba member from Boston

    1. Thank you Robin for the tips about how I might find the fruit in the Pittsburgh area and about the weather’s effect on the apple harvests. I am sure both will help me no end.

  2. I think you might not be able to transport plant material into the USA. This might be a situation where working from photos makes sense, especially since you have a good selection of them in your garden. Also maybe someone at Phipps Conservatory or the Pittsburgh ASBA chapter can give you local information. They have contact info on the ASBA website. I’m happy to say I scored a coveted spot in your class! Can’t wait.

    1. I’m so glad that you got a place Elizabeth. Thanks for letting me know.
      Regarding the crab apples; I hadn’t intended taking any from my own garden. What happened with the Fuchsia should be a warning to anyone thinking of taking cuttings from another country. The mite that arrived in the U.K. to affect our Fuchsias, was probably brought in by someone bringing a cutting.

      I’m of course hoping that people doing the workshop and native to the US will think of taking samples with them and possibly take enough to help somebody else who hasn’t got any. Crab apples are normally found in the wild as well as people’s gardens, but I can’t imagine that there is any large scale production of them. They are often used in apple orchards to help with fertilisation of the apples, particularly where a second species is needed for the task.

      I had also thought of getting in touch with the botanic gardens in case they can point me in the right direction.

      Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing you again.

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