Refugee's picture

Witches Broom

Observed: 7th February 2012 By: RefugeeRefugee’s reputation in Fungi and LichensRefugee’s reputation in Fungi and LichensRefugee’s reputation in Fungi and Lichens
Witches Broom

I am pretty sure this is a fungal Witches Broom. The only ones i can find on the web are from north America and only grow in large stands of Larch. There is some Beech confusing the view that has retained its leaves. It is in a mainly broad leaved wood. Not too much confidence though.


Caution: Do NOT use iSpot to identify fungi to eat!

Some fungi are very poisonous so a mistaken ID could have serious consequences.

    Likely ID
    Witches Broom (Tephrina betulina)
    Confidence: It might be this.
Species interactions

No interactions present.


Beagle's picture

Witches Broom

T.betulina is the largest and most familiar gall-inducing Taphrina. The twig-like formations are the size and shape of squirrel's dreys among the branches of Birches. They are conspicuous at the moment in my local wood. Regards


Refugee's picture

Other trees

I have observed it on Birch where it is a lot more common. I have also noticed it on Beech but have no photos. The lime one looks fairly common from what i have seen on my patch. As for the Larch it is the only one i have ever seen. Not a lot else about in winter.


Syrphus's picture

I am not sure that Taphrina

I am not sure that Taphrina (note spelling) betulina would be on either Larch or Lime. It is rare on B. pendula - at least in Scotland, where it is very common on B. pubescens and hybrids. There are very large 'brooms' close to here on Larch and Scots Pine, but as far as I am aware the causer is unknown - if indeed these are galls and not the result of injury.

Even the brooms on Betula are apparently now recognised as having two causes, one T. betulina and the other a phytoplasma, so all records will need to be treated with caution.



recording wildlife with The Recorder's Year on

Refugee's picture

North america

There are some forestry sites in north America that show Mistletoe as the causer but only in big plantations due to the way it spreads. I will visit the web again and see if i can find anything in UK.


Refugee's picture

Do an observation

The large ones on Pine and Larch might be from an invasive Mistletoe Arceuthobium pusillum from North America. If it is it may need to be reported to the forestry commission.
We may need to visit our specimens again in the summer first.
There are no reports of it in UK yet however that could change.


Jonathan Briggs's picture

Arceuthobium is probably unlikely

I think Arceuthobium is very unlikely to be the cause - and a mega cause for concern if it was. Afaik no North American Dwarf Mistletoes have ever made it over here - difficult to see how they could really, except on an already infected live tree import.

But the implications could be tremendous. We really don't want any new alien parasitic plants here! I assume your speculation is no more than speculation??

Jonathan Briggs

Refugee's picture

On Larch

I did say it is likely to be a fungal one. I was hoping to find another image of it on Larch but there are none i could find. Only the north american Mistletoe could be found on the web. Over there they do not like it and it would be a problem it that did get over here. Even in the unlikely event of it being that it would not spread as host trees are too well spread for it to get across. Mainly broad leaved for a mile or so.