Ask a Question forum: Echinacea virus?

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Name: Christine
Wolfville, Nova Scotia (Zone 5a)
Jul 9, 2016 5:29 AM CST
I have a large patch of echinacea that had a leaf spot issue last year. I cut them back in the fall and cleaned up as best I could. This year some of them have strange yellow splotches on the leaves. It looks as though someone spattered bleach on them. I don't think it is insect dammage as it is extensive and there are no holes at all. I have never seen this before. Oh! And I have never seen so many leafhoppers. I am worried they are spreading a virus.
Thumb of 2016-07-09/christine2/9a17e7

(Zone 8b)
Jul 9, 2016 3:29 PM CST
I am only familiar with aster yellows being an issue on coneflowers. In my experience it doesn't resemble how it looks in your pic. However, you could type aster yellows in google images and see if anything comes up that looks like yours.
Name: Art
Florissant, MO (Zone 6b)
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Jul 9, 2016 4:00 PM CST
Sallysmom could be right. According to Missouri Botanical Gardens, Aster yellows is primarily transmitted by leafhoppers.
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
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Jul 9, 2016 4:15 PM CST
Can you check the underside of the leaves?
Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Heucheras Echinacea
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Jul 9, 2016 6:51 PM CST
It does not look like aster yellows to me. When they flower it will look like leaves are growing out of the flowers. By this chart it looks like White Smut which would require a fungicide.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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Jul 10, 2016 8:42 AM CST
I think Bob called it. Heh, but if you do a google search for "white smut" be prepared for some VERY odd images. Hilarious!
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Name: Danita
GA (Zone 7b)
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Jul 10, 2016 10:19 AM CST
I'm not an expert on the subject, but, sadly, I'd guess that it is a virus. Many of the yellow spots are in the shape of rings or partial rings. From what I've read, that usually indicates a viral infection, likely a mosaic or spot virus. Leafhoppers are evil! Grumbling

In what area of the country are the plants growing?
[Last edited by Danita - Jul 10, 2016 10:21 AM (+)]
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Name: Christine
Wolfville, Nova Scotia (Zone 5a)
Jul 25, 2016 7:39 PM CST
Sorry for the delay, I am not really up to speed on how this site works and I didn't see the replies. Thank you! I am in Nova Scotia, Canada. I live in a rural setting. Last year I had a lot of problems with my echinacea. I had all the symptoms of aster yellows, but finally decided it was coneflower rosette mites. They dammage the flowers which end up looking very similar to those affected by aster yellows. It was so strange, the flowers looked like something from a bad science experiment! I ripped out all the affected plants and cut back all my echinacea in the fall, which I don't usually do. I cleaned up everything. That seemed to take care of the problem, thank goodness, not a single distortion so far this year. While you were kindly writing replies, I was in the garden pulling out all the echinacea with leaves like in the picture I posted. It was hot and sunny. Before I had all of them pulled out, the rain started and lasted for about 4 days. I was very worried about what I would find when I went back into the garden. Well, much to my surprise, it hadn't spread at all and everything looked great! It still does! In fact, thinning out the plants and the addition of compost in the spring has created some very healthy looking plants. Oh, and I discovered that ants were farming the leafhoppers, which is something I didn't know about. It was easy to spot where they were laying their eggs because of all the ants around them. I removed these leaves too, and have very few leafhoppers now. So, one problem down and who knows what the next one will be. LOL! Thank you all! It is wonderful to find such support!
(Zone 8b)
Jul 26, 2016 2:05 PM CST
So glad @christine2 that it has worked out. Sometimes mother nature works things out for us.

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