Plant Galls Identification, Management, and Prevention



What Are Plant Galls?

Identification. A plant gall is an abnormal growth of plant tissue caused by a variety of microorganisms such as insects, mites, nematodes, viruses, fungi, and bacteria.  It can also be caused by external injury.

How Do I Know If I Have Plant Galls?

Damage.  Galls form on a plant in response to the actions of a living organism such as insects that lay eggs in plant tissue.  They take many shapes and forms depending on the cause.

Because galls form as a result of cell multiplication in growing plant tissue they can only form on plants that are still in the growth stage.

Crown gall is caused by bacteria and will cause wart-like growths on the root crown.

How to Get Rid of Plant Galls

Control.  Most galls do not seriously harm the health of plants.  Once a gall is formed, control measures are generally not effective.

Theoretically, a gall can be removed by excising it, but again, this may cause further injury to the plant.

In the case of crown gall, the object is to get rid of the bacteria so that it will not spread to other plants through the soil.  There are chemical eradicants that can be painted on the gall.  If you suspect that the soil is contaminated use an antagonistic bacterium as a preventative treatment before introducing any new plant growth in the area.

Can I Prevent Plant Galls?

Prevention. Galls that are caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses can be prevented by ensuring that only healthy plants are purchased and planted.

Bacteria, fungi, and viruses infect plants that are susceptible so it is important to avoid injuring the plant during transplanting.  Fresh pruning sites should not come into contact with soil.

Disinfect garden tools.

In the case of severe infections, remove and destroy affected plants.

Insect galls can be prevented with insecticides that kill the insect.  Timing is difficult and impractical because the insecticide has to be applied before a gall forms, and during the growth cycle of the plant.

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