The Q&A Archives: White Pine Blister Rust

Question: I have some 60 Ponderosa Pine tree seedlings on my property and I'm looking to add some berries and flowering shrubs. Two of the plants that I was considering is the Gooseberry and Red Lake Currants. However, after reading about this plants I can across information about the White Pine Blister Rust. Is it wise or safe to plant Gooseberries or Currants when there are Pine trees around (within 50 feet)?

Answer: White Pine Blister Rust is caused by Cronarium ribicola, a fungus that can attack five-needle pines. The alternate hosts are currants and gooseberries. Spores of this disease are carried by the wind from pines to the alternate hosts, and back to the pines again. Your pines may never develop this disease, but rather than tempting fate, why not choose plants that are not alternate hosts for the fungal spores?

Wintergreen, blueberries, black or red raspberries, lingonberries or huckleberries are wonderfully hardy plants that grow well near pines and provide tasty fruit as an added bonus.

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