Camellia Leaf Gall

by Dr. James H. Blake, Director, Home & Garden Information Center, Clemson University, 2009

Hi, I'm James Blake, Director of the Clemson Extension Home & Garden Information Center. Today we're going to be looking at camellia leaf gall.

We’re in the Camellia Garden of the South Carolina Botanical Garden on the campus of Clemson University looking at some very strange camellia leaves. These camellias are infected by a disease known as camellia leaf gall caused by the fungus Exobasidium camelliae.

The symptoms that occur on the camellias are these very thick, fleshy leaves and also the young shoots can also be infected and be thick and fleshy as well. The color of these galls can range from a cream to a light green to a pink or reddish color.

As these galls mature, several layers of the lower leaf surface will peel away revealing a white color, which is the spores of the fungus. These spores are spread by the wind and splashing rain to the bark or buds of other camellias where they'll lie dormant until next year and cause infection next spring. This disease is most commonly seen in April and May. Later in the season these galls will harden up and turn brown and may fall to the ground or remain attached to the plants.

This disease is primarily seen on Camellia sasanqua but does occur on the other species of Camellia as well. This fungus is host-specific meaning that it only affects Camellia species. There is another Exobasidium species that causes leaf gall on azalea.

Management of this disease is relatively easy – simply pick the galls off and throw them in the trash. The key is to try to remove them before the fungal spores are exposed. Unfortunately the fungus can be blown in from other infected camellias in your area.

While these symptoms are very dramatic the disease really causes no harm to the plant. So once again, simply pick them off and throw them in the trash.

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