Brown tips on garden ferns are caused by a fungus called Phytophthora ramorum. It causes various symptoms such as yellowing of leaves, brown spots or patches on the leaf surface, and eventually death of the plant.
The cause of these symptoms varies from one species to another; however it seems that most plants will die if they have not been treated with fungicides within two weeks after infection.
Symptoms usually appear within three to four days after infection, but may take up to six months before the disease is completely cured. Symptoms often first show themselves in the lower parts of the plant where there are fewer roots.
They then spread upwards through the plant until they reach its uppermost parts. At this point they become less noticeable and last only a few days.
Once the disease is diagnosed, treatment must begin immediately. Fungicide treatments kill all stages of the fungus and prevent future infections.
However, some plants may survive the initial treatment period without any further problems. If this occurs, additional fungicides may be needed to control the problem permanently.
This disease is highly contagious, it can spread by numerous ways; the wind can carry the spore over large areas, humans can spread it on their shoes or equipment, animals like birds or insects can carry it from one plant to another and even watering systems can spread it.
It is essential to quarantine all infected plants, dispose of any dead leaves and prune out any visible infections. Make sure you disinfect your tools between each plant you treat.
You should dispose of any infected plant material far away from your garden and replace with non-susceptible plants.
It is essential to prevent the spread of the disease by keeping areas around the garden clear and well drained, this limits the amount of water that can collect where the fungus can live and prevents it from splashing up from wet soil onto leaves during rain.
This tip is very important because this water can splash the fungus from one plant to another. It is also very important to water in the morning so that leaves dry quickly after rainfall and long periods of rain, this prevents the ferns from becoming wet which stops the spread of the disease.
Soil must be well drained to prevent dampness around the roots. If soil is allowed to collect around the base of the plant, it will hold moisture and provide the perfect breeding ground for spores.
Carefully remove any soil from around the base of plants at least once a month to prevent this from occurring.
Make sure garden beds are well drained by adding lots of organic matter before you replant.
The best way to avoid this disease is to only plant non-susceptible plants in your garden. Check with a nursery or garden center before you buy to ensure it is not susceptible.
There are several varieties of fern that are already immune or resistant such as the Rock Shield Fern, Cinnamon Fern, Hawaiian Wood Fern, Japanese Painted Fern, and the Australian Tree Fern. Native species are also non-susceptible.
The most important thing is to keep everything well weeded and ensure the soil is kept well drained and free from water-logging. If you want to add top soil, make sure it is free from disease.
Check with a local nursery or garden center to make sure it is not contaminated.
If you have recently had other plants removed from your garden because of this disease, make sure you dispose of all plant material away from the garden to prevent reinfection.
Do not collect soil or leaf litter from other areas as this may be contaminated.
If you see any mushrooms or other fungi pop up in or around your plants, remove them immediately and dispose of them away from the garden. Fungi can spread the disease very quickly.
More images of this disease can be seen here
This page has some more information on how to control it.
Good luck, and good gardening!
Oooh, pretty….and look!
It has spread to the other fern too. If you look closely at the top right-hand corner of the fern, you can see the beginnings of the disease.
So sad that such a pretty plant has become infected with this terrible fungus! This is why it is so important to check plants before you buy them and keep your garden free from weeds and diseased plants.
Time for this plant to go….
Poisonous plants are a hazard in any garden. Children playing in your garden may put hand to mouth after touching or eating some plants.
Some people are also allergic to certain chemicals the plants contain.
Some plants such as castor beans and foxgloves have dangerous poisons in them but these are not very common in most gardens and are normally grown for the attractive flowers they produce rather than their seeds or leaves.
So, let’s look at some of the more common and less dangerous poisonous plants.
Comfrey is a very common weed found growing wild in most gardens. Its long roots make it very difficult to extirpate from your lawn and often appear through shallow surface mulches.
Do not put comfrey on the compost heap as its long taproot will find its way to the nourishing food before other plants and take all the nutrients.
The leaves, roots and especially the young stems contain all the nutrients a plant needs to grow. The problem is that these same plants also contain chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids which can cause liver cancer in humans.
It is believed that animals that graze on comfrey do not get liver cancer because their stomachs digest the alkaloids before they reach the liver.
The safest way to use comfrey is as a medicine rather than a food although it has many properties that help heal broken bones and such. It should not be used in any circumstance as a fertilizer because of the danger of root invasion of the soil.
Daffodils, irises and other related plants contain high levels of alkaloids which cause vomiting, diarrhea and damage to the liver.
Foxglove is a very attractive plant with its purple bell-shaped flowers. It was once used medicinally but its major alkaloid, digitalis, can cause irregular heartbeat and if used in high dosages it can cause death.
It has been widely used in murders because of this property and care should be taken growing this plant due to the risk involved. It is best not to grow it at all.
Other plants that contain high levels of similar alkaloids include:
*some Oleander species
*some monkshoods (Aconitum species)
*Tobacco (nicotine poisoning!)
Giant hogweed causes intense burns and blindness. Its white flowers are concentrated at the top of the plant.
Larkspur is a pretty plant but its seeds and flowers contain toxic alkaloids and cause paralysis. It is not as toxic as some plants but should not be handled.
Some plants such as the leaves of tomato plants, potatoes or apple seeds contain poisonous alkaloids such as solanine and are best avoided.
Other plants are mildly toxic such as Mistletoe, Sago Palm and Yellow Jasmine.
A final example is the common Castor Oil plant. Although it is commonly found in gardens it produces a poisonous oil called ricin.
Despite its widespread location in gardens it is not very dangerous unless ingested in vast quantities due to its strong taste. It can cause diarrhea and dehydration but that is the extent of the symptoms.
If you are worried that your child may have eaten anything toxic then you should contact your doctor immediately.
Plants are often overlooked as a poison but they are just as dangerous as anything else commonly found in the home.
Poisonous plants also often produce flowers and other desirable attributes so it is best not to remove them from your garden if you can avoid it.
The best policy is to educate yourself on the most dangerous plants in your area so you know what to look out for.
In my line of work I come into contact with a lot of toxic materials on a daily basis. One of the very worst things that can happen to you is to accidentally inhale some of the filth you are handling.
You can end up dead within minutes.
If you happen to be near a blast furnace or other large kiln then the ash and smoke can be particularly bad. It is for this reason that all entrances to these places have large bags of activated charcoal hanging from the ceiling.
These can be grabbed and thrown over your head in an emergency and offer some protection from the smoke.
Charcoal has many uses in manufacturing. It is widely used as a filter in gas masks for example.
It can also be used to absorb other toxic materials in an emergency. If you are caught in a fire or exposed to a particularly nasty spill then throwing a bag of the stuff over your head can help filter out some of the bad stuff.
Charcoal is also used in water filters to remove chemicals and toxins so it can even save your life if you are caught short far from home.
It even has uses in the kitchen. A layer of charcoal on top of a stored barrel of water can keep it free from contaminates and prevent it from going foul.
It is also handy to keep a pot of charcoaled fire close to the kitchen sink where you can wash up as it removes smell and taste from your hands and disposal of the charcoaled water isn’t a problem as it will have no bacteria or viruses within it.
Charcoal is cheap and easy to come by so it is well worth keeping a bag close at hand if you are working with dangerous materials.
I am often required to take items into the City that have not been approved for distribution yet. This can sometimes lead the guards to suspect I am up to no good and search my wagon.
To help prevent this I started hiring some hobgoblins.
Hobgoblins are amazing at blending in with their surroundings. They can hide and sneak about better than a dark elf!
This makes it very easy for me to send them into the City a few days early so they can hide in a alley near the gates. When I arrive they give me a secret sign so I know it is safe to enter. If they didn’t give me the sign then I would not enter.
I am not sure if this trick would fool the Iron Guard but it has so far. I am hoping that it will keep working for a long time yet.
I have some other tricks I use but their involve secret Guild business so I won’t go into them here.
I hope this has been helpful and remember to always be alert and aware of your surroundings!
Sources & references used in this article:
Photosynthesis, photoinhibition, and nitrogen use efficiency in native and invasive tree ferns in Hawaii by LZ Durand, G Goldstein – Oecologia, 2001 – Springer
Flora of Alberta: a manual of flowering plants, conifers, ferns, and fern allies found growing without cultivation in the Province of Alberta, Canada by EH Moss, EH Moss, JG Packer – 1983 – books.google.com
The economic uses and associated folklore of ferns and fern allies by LW May – The Botanical Review, 1978 – Springer
Hawai’i’s ferns and fern allies by DD Palmer – 2003 – books.google.com