Tree Killers: White Pine Blister Rust

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  • Common English name: White Pine Blister Rust
  • Other names:
  • Latin (scientific) name: Cronartium ribicola

Threat type

150x150 diseases

History in Canada

  • introduced on imported pine seedlings from Europe to New York (1906) and to Vancouver (1910)
  • slowly spread across North America


  • this is a fungus that attacks several species of pine, especially Eastern White Pine, Western White Pine, Sugar Pine, Whitebark Pine, Limber Pine, and Southwestern White Pine
  • the fungus enters the leaves and spreads to the branches
  • the disease has a complex life history and cannot spread directly from pine to pine but must develop on an intermediate host: the leaves of Gooseberries or Currants (Ribes spp.)
  • the fungus seems to have little impact on Gooseberries or Currants

Impact on Trees

  • seedlings are most vulnerable and usually killed
  • older trees can have branches or tops killed by the fungus but will survive as long as the trunk is uninfected
  • tree is killed when the infection girdles the trunk

What can be done to control this tree killer?

  • past efforts involved removing the intermediate host (Gooseberries and Currants) or preventing them from being grown in important pine-growing regions
  • preventing the shipping of pine nursery stock from infected to disease-free areas
  • pruning lower branches to reduce the likelihood of infection migrating to the trunk
  • developing disease-resistant strains for replanting

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