pests or... ?

shenue(z7 MD)September 19, 2013

I started noticing these on my ficus benjamina a few days ago. They are very small...maybe like 1/16 in. White, waxy and very flat, like a sheet of paper. They are on the leaves in various places, top and underneath the leaves, but mainly on the underneath with the majority of them on the spot where the leaf joins to the stem. There aren't many of them at all. I've only gotten maybe 30 of them from the whole plant. They are individual and not clumped or even close to each other. The leaves that have them don't have more than 1 on the leaves. I've had the plant several years and this is the first time I've seen these. They fall off easily when I touch them and don't move at all when they are on my hand or when I put them on my table to take this picture. They just don't look like anything that is living, but I realize they are coming from somewhere, obviously. When I rub them between my fingers, they have a kind of waxy feel and will break apart or hmmmm sort of disintigrate. But if these are some kind of pest I want to catch them now and get rid of them before the infectation would become heavy. I have a strong emotional attachment to the plant. It was given to me a few years ago when my mom passed away. So, I would hate to lose it. The ficus is small, about 18 to 24 inches, potted, and has always been indoors.
Any help, information, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

This post was edited by shenue on Thu, Sep 19, 13 at 8:49

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

This is a perfectly normal phenomenon, occuring on ficus and a few other plants. They are observed primarily on the underside of the leaf, at the juncture of the petiole and the leaf. Scientists call them phenol glands because of the phenolic compounds found in this exudate.
W That plants produce this waxy material occasionally is not an indication of a problem; it is not the same as guttation; it is not an indication of pest or disease problems; it's not caused by something that you are doing wrong.

There's nothing you should do......including worry about it for one more second.

P.S. Ficus phenol gland exudates have been identified many times over the years in the Houseplant Forum.

This post was edited by rhizo_1 on Thu, Sep 19, 13 at 11:01

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 10:54AM
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shenue(z7 MD)

I thank you SO much for that information. I had read that these plants can be prone to scale and scale can be white. I am relieved to know that this is perfectly normal though. Thanks so very much!


    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 11:21AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You're welcome, Linda. The first time I saw this on Ficus was when the manager of a local garden center called me in a panic. A customer noticed them on the leaves of many of her F. benjamina in her display greenhouse. One little glob per leaf...always in the same spot. Pretty interesting, I think.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 12:34PM
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shenue(z7 MD)

It really is quite interesting. I've had houseplants my entire adult life. And I'm 61, so that's a LOT of years. :-) I thought I was pretty familiar with most pests but this is my first ficus benjamina (at least my first one that lived more than a few weeks) so I thought, who knows, maybe this is a pest I'm just not familiar with. I am very glad to know this is something that simply happens naturally with these plants. Again, thank you so much for responding with the information!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 3:51PM
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