Camellia gall

Camellia gall is a fungal disease causing large cream-coloured swellings (galls) on camellias. The galls may look alarming, but cause little or no long-term damage to the plant.

Camellia gall

Quick facts

Common name Camellia gall
Scientific name Exobasidium camelliae
Plants affected Camellia species
Main symptoms Cream-coloured swellings (galls)
Caused by Fungus
Timing Early summer

What is camellia gall?

Camellia gall is a disease caused by the fungus Exobasidium camelliae (Shirai). It is favoured by wet weather conditions.

This disease is specific to camellias. A similar disease of azaleas and rhododendrons is caused by the closely-related fungus Exobasidium japonicum.

Galls will appear on camellias from early summer.

Symptoms

You may see the following:

  • Creamy-coloured swellings (galls) develop during summer in the place of leaves. Usually just a few galls are found, with the rest of the foliage appearing normal. Shrivelled pieces of leaf sometimes remain at the tips of the galls
  • The galls can be up to 15cm (6in) in length, and variable in shape. They are often rounded or shaped like a rugby ball, but some can be forked or hand-like. They have a firm texture at first, becoming softer with age. Their surface may be smooth or wrinkled. Initially green in colour, the mature gall takes on a creamy colouration as large numbers of spores are produced over its surface

Control

Non-chemical control

Galls should be removed and destroyed as soon as they are seen. Repeat infection is less likely if this can be done before the bloom of spores develops on the gall. If spores are already present it would be worth enclosing the gall in a plastic bag before removing it.

Chemical control

No fungicides are available to gardeners for the control of this disease.

Biology

The life-cycle of the camellia gall fungus is not well understood. The spores produced over the surface of the gall are thought to initiate new infections. Wet or humid conditions appear to favour infection.

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  • Mrs V Beckett

    By Mrs V Beckett on 22/07/2014

    I visited a friend at the weekend and noticed hard, round "galls" on the bush. These are dark brown and, when crushed underfoot, we found tiny white seed- looking things inside. However, they could have been grubs. The "galls" don't look like the photo of camellia gall on the RHS website. Any suggestions? Victoria Beckett


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