USDA-Forest Service, Forest Health Management, 1730 Samco Road, Rapid City, SD 57702
P.O. Box 25127, Lakewood, CO 80225
White pine blister rust caused by Cronartium ribicola was introduced into North America in the early 20th century and is spreading throughout the range of five-needle pines. In northern Colorado, this pathogen was first observed in 1998 on limber pine (Pinus flexilis) (1). It has not been reported on Rocky Mountain or Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata and P. longaeva, respectively) in nature. However, Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine is susceptible to the disease when artificially inoculated (2). In October 2003, a Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine was found infected with C. ribicola in the Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Alamosa County, Colorado. Seven branch cankers were observed on the tree. Cankers ranged in length from 15 to 41 cm and were estimated to be approximately 5 to 7 years old. Distinct C. ribicola branch symptoms were observed, including flagging, spindle-shaped swellings, and 6 mm long aecial scars. A branch was deposited at the Colorado State Herbarium. Microscopic examination of spores within remnant aecial blisters revealed aeciospores characteristic of C. ribicola (yellow-orange, ellipsoid, verrucose, and 19 × 25 μm). Cankers were only observed on one bristlecone pine. However, most limber pines in the area were infected with C. ribicola, including a limber pine less than 1 m from the infected bristlecone pine. To our knowledge, this is the first report that shows Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine can become infected naturally, and the pathogen is further south in Colorado on limber pine than previously reported. These observations suggest the need for a more complete investigation of this disease on bristlecone pines.
References: (1) D. W. Johnson and W. R. Jacobi. Plant Dis. 84:595, 2000. (2) B. R. Stephan, Allg. Forst Z. 28:695, 1985.