Frances Williams "burn"

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Frances Williams "burn"

Postby Bill Meyer » Dec 12, 2007 5:16 pm

Hi Everybody,

This is an interesting subject and one that has not yet been really figured out despite all the years this plant has been around. Some well-known hosta people call this symptom "dessication burn", which would imply drying out but I don't really see it that way. Clearly there is tissue damage in the gold margin, but what causes it remains a mystery after decades of trying to figure it out.

I have my own theory which is a little different from the others. I think it is a result of edema, and that the gold tissue is just particularly sensitive to tthat problem. Edema (often spelled "oedema") is a buildup of water in the leaf beyond what the plant can pass. It will happen pretty rarely for most hostas, and even more rarely will damage them. The right weather conditions are necessary to see it. It happens when there is a lot of rain for several consecutive days in very cool temperatures, and its kind of an invisible problem because we usually aren't out there looking at the hostas when it's 40F and raining steadily.

With edema you see random areas on the leaves that look waterlogged like frost-damaged tissue does. They don't stay that way for very long and most plants clear the water without getting much damage if any. If it is bad enough, some hostas get damage that looks just like the "burn" on 'Frances Williams'. I've only seen this once in all the years I've been looking at hostas, so it isn't very common. Because the result was several plants looking like they had the same "burn" that FW and its relatives have, I can't help but think they just have a particular sensitivity to edema.

If anybody would like to help solve the FW "burn" mystery, look at your plant next spring on very cool rainy days and look for waterlogged spots. They won't be there long, and I expect you won't see them on many other plants. Get a pic if you can, then another later when the "burn" damage shows up and we'll see if they are the same areas. This would likely happen in the first month after emergence, but could be a little later.

The attached pic is of 'Cleopatra' with edema so you know what to look for. It was taken on May 13th last year in Connectcut. None of these waterlogged spots suffered any damage, but on 'Krugerrand' the areas looked exactly like FW "burn" after a few weeks.

........Bill Meyer
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Frances Williams "burn"

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Postby wishiwere » Dec 13, 2007 8:07 am

Hmmm...Interesting thoughts. I thought my FW held up pretty good this year and was surprised, wondering why it did? Now I'm wondering if maybe we had good conditions that just didn't cause it harm. I'll watch closer as you suggest next year to see how it does.
Jane (from the middle of the Mitten state)
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Postby SeaHosta » Dec 13, 2007 11:40 am

When I lived in Wyoming...just until a couple years ago...I rarely had problems with F.W. Spring weather, though often moist, was usually sunny and dry. But now that I'm in Seattle, I notice quite a bit of burning on it and Super Nova. Though I suspect Super Nova might burn except within the confines of a deep cave...lol
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