Cedar Apple

To me, this particular “spring ephemeral” is as welcome as a wildflower. It is a sign of the season: a “cedar apple,” doing its wacky thing in wet spring weather. This one is on our volunteer red-cedar tree in the front yard, and I’ve been waiting for the rusty, dry galls to wake from winter. The “fruit” is the result of airborne dalliance (via spores) with our neighbor’s real apple tree. Cedars and apples must really hate each other: cedars get tentacled galls, and apples get splotchy leaves and fruit. I’ve read that orchard owners are advised to remove all red-cedar within a ¼ mile radius. In Tennessee, this would be a lot of lumber.

When I was growing up, my parents put a cedar tree and an apple tree in the yard, but none of us could have guessed the relationship. Spotty apples tasted fine. And I never even thought to wonder at the weird cedar blobs. They were just part of the inventory of things to play with, and made excellent props for G.I. Joe and Barbie. (Pretty sure they were “sea mines,” set to detonate when disturbed by Barbie’s speed boat.)

Google images show me that Mom’s apple tree is gone, but the cedar is still there, and enormous.

cedar apple
Winterized gall

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Missouri Botanical Garden has good info about cedar-apple rust, here.

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