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Echinacea weirdness

Posted by ahughes798 z5 IL (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 18, 03 at 13:42

I noticed during the growing season that quite a few of my overabundant echinacea had these weird tumor-like protrusions on the seed-head. Any ideas what might have caused this?

Another echinacea question I have is this...some plants had green stems, and the normal color blossoms, and some plants have dark red stems and blossoms that were slightly darker in colour. Do older plants have darker stems, or do I possibly have 2 spp. going on here? Thanks for your help. April

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Echinacea weirdness

The growths may be galls, which is when an insect burrows into the tissue and gives of chemicals that cause odd growth behaviour.

The different colored flowers and stems are just genetic variations within the species. The amount of light recieved, drought, and temperature can also effect how much pigment is produced.

RE: Echinacea weirdness

  • Posted by EricWI Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Tue, Nov 18, 03 at 21:55

A local garderner with a newspaper column discussed the
seed head growths found on echinacea. She said that this
was caused by a virus. I read this several years ago, so
I am fuzzy on the details.

RE: Echinacea weirdness

  • Posted by mina Z5 Chicago (My Page) on
    Thu, Nov 20, 03 at 12:43

my echinacea (and some of my rudbeckia) also looked very strange this season. I researched aster yellows deeply and then looked at my plants. although there was some malformed flowers and stems, they didn't look anywhere near as bad as the photos of aster yellows that I saw.

I had the same syptoms that you had - the weird colored dark stems and pre-flowers. little tiny buds that came up and never turned into flowers. flowers and stems and bracts all mixed up in a weird looking flower thing. flowers with tumors growing from them. some of the plants were strangely tall and coarse. however some of the flowers on these same plants were 100% fine.

so, I decided over the course of the season to let my plants come up in spring and see what happens. maybe it was the weird (really really wet) weather we had this spring. maybe it was a bug of some kind that is prevalent in really really wet weather.

however, if they come up malformed again in spring, I will just assume that they are infected with aster yellows and dispose of them. I hate to do it, but it is a very easily transmitted viral disease (vector insect is the aster leafhopper) and incurable. one of the things to look for in aster yellows is something called a 'witches broom'. if I see this in spring I will decide for sure it's aster yellows.

aster yellows can infect an entire garden, necessitating disposing of all plants showing symptoms. I don't want to go there. rudbeckia, monardo, phlox, echinacea, and many other species are susceptible to aster yellows.

Good luck.


Here is a link that might be useful: Yellows Diseases of Echinacea, Monarda and Caraway

RE: Echinacea weirdness

Sounds like another case of phytoplasmas. They are a group of pathogens that are like a virus. Typically infected plants have green flowers, thickened flattened stems and irregularites such as ray flowers mixed amongst the disc flowers in the head. If you have extras, I'd cull out any plants that show signs of disease. Keep in mind, phytoplasmas and viruses can be spread through gardening tools. Sanitize tools after each use.

RE: Echinacea weirdness

This is a follow-up to my echinacea troubles...after all the seeds and prickles fell off the tumerous coneflowers..You can see a little hole in the smooth, hard, brown "cone" that's left behind. So I think it was some kind of insect infestation, because the blooms were all normal looking, except for the tumors on the seed head. Thanks for all the great info! I will be on the lookout for worsening weirdness when spring gets here.

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