Tree is healthy, but galls have distorted its leaves


August 11, 2007|By Ellen Nibali and David Clement | Ellen Nibali and David Clement,Special to the Sun

Some leaves on my tree are coated with blisters, though the majority have only a few growths or none. Do I need to do anything? Otherwise, the tree seems OK.

Shade-tree leaves get many types of galls, an abnormal swelling of plant tissue. Galls are a leaf's reaction to chemicals introduced by egg-laying insects or feeding by insects, mites, bacteria, fungi or nematodes.

Galls assume many shapes, some truly bizarre. Usually, they don't affect a tree. Because your tree is healthy, control isn't recommended.

A prickly vine is rapidly covering up my shrubs. The leaves are triangles. Yesterday I saw little green balls on the vine. What do I do?

Rip it out as fast as you can. Mile-a-minute vine lives up to its name, well, every minute. Fortunately, this alien invasive plant is an annual with almost no root. It's simple to pull up, but wear gloves - its other name is Tear thumb. The green balls are berries that will soon turn bright blue and drop, then grow into new vines next year. Pull up this nuisance before it can multiply.

Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and David Clement is the regional specialist. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at

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