ASK WENDY

Warty citrus won't win beauty award


Citrus scab is a fungal disease that affects tangerines, tangelos and grapefruits.

Courtesy of USDA
Published: Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 10:57 a.m.

Q: Most of my green grapefruits on my tree are covered in bumpy brown warts. The fruit are very young, and now it looks like they are all ruined.

Is there anything I can do to save the fruit?

A: The problem you are describing is fungal disease of tangerines, tangelos and grapefruits called citrus scab. This disease is worse during springs that are rainy or particularly humid. People usually first notice the corky brown bumps or warty growths on the fruit, and then discover more wart-like projections on the leaves and young stems. Badly affected leaves can become distorted and stunted.

This year's crop will have the scab lesions on the rind, and won't win any beauty contest, but the fruit still is edible and you can enjoy the juice. The time to control this disease is early in the season of next year. You will need to apply three applications of a copper fungicide to control this disease.

The first spray should be applied at about one-quarter expansion of the spring flush leaves, the second at petal fall, and the third about three weeks later.

There are copper sprays that are labeled organic, but be sure to read all the label instructions for the tree's safety and yours.

For more information about citrus scab and other citrus diseases, visit the University of Florida's IFAS Extensions website at www.solutionsforyourlife.com

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Q: There is a large fern-like plant in the shady wood line area of my backyard. One of my dogs broke off and chewed on one of the yellow-colored pods or flowers. This made the dog sick, but now he is fine. Can you please help me identify this particular plant? I do not mind its presence, since its huge shape creates a nice visual in the wood line. However, if it is toxic or at all dangerous to animals, I will gladly remove it.

A: The photos you sent me of the plant were of a common plant in North Central Florida called split-leaf philodendron or selloum. Its Latin name is Philodendron bipinnatifidum, and it is a member of the aroid family. All plants in this group contain calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves, stems and flowers.

The plant parts, if chewed and consumed, will result in oral irritation, burning of the mouth, lips and tongue. If enough is consumed, there will be excessive drooling and vomiting and difficulty swallowing. Some gardeners also complain that the sap will burn and cause dermatitis. Hopefully, the dog will leave it alone now, but, if not, they are easy enough to remove. Other plants in the group include caladiums and the houseplants dieffenbachia and aglaonema.

For more information about plants that are toxic to pets, contact the UF/IFAS Alachua County Master Gardeners at 955-2402.

Wendy Wilber is an extension agent with UF/IFAS. Email her at wlwilber@ifas.ufl.edu./

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