Updated: 20 May 2007                Click on Pictures to Enlarge.                Next Page     
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INTRODUCTION:  Rose rosette disease (RRD) is a virus, or virus-like, disease that is a danger to all ornamental roses. This contagious, incurable, fatal rose disease is spreading unchecked through the wild rose population of the Midwest, South, East and parts of Canada. From infected wild roses, it spreads to cultivated roses.

RRD is vectored by the microscopic wingless eriophyoid mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus, often found on roses. After the mite feeds on an infected rose, it can be blown to another rose by a puff of wind and transmit the RRD pathogen when it feeds there. RRD symptoms may not appear for weeks or even months. In my garden, I have seen some infected roses die in less than three months.  In other gardens and along fence lines I have watched other roses linger for up to six years as potential sources of infection.

Although symptoms vary from rose cultivar to cultivar and with season or stage of infection, RRD is characterized by aberrant, excessive and/or unexpected growth.Early symptom recognition may minimize RRD's impact on a garden. I hope this book will educate rose growers so they can recognize RRD early, take the proper actions to deal with it and continue to grow roses.

Above: multiple witches' brooms on a shrub rose.  RRD was originally called "Witches' Broom of Roses".  (Normal leaves on uninfected canes are in the lower right hand corner of the picture.)

Above: line drawing of the wingless microscopic mite 'Phyllocoptes fructiphilus' that carries the RRD pathogen. (Drawing by Keifer 1939).

RRD has been described in scientific literature as a potential biological method of weed control for 'R. multiflora'. With help from the USDA and state departments of agriculture, 'R. multiflora' had been remarkably successful getting established in the central and eastern United States since the 1930's.  Thus, R. multiflora and other wild roses as well as roses gone wild have provided a perfect reservoir to harbor this disease and enable its spread. RRD is not limited to 'R. multiflora', but can infect almost any rose on which an infected mite lands and feeds.

About the Author: Ann Peck has grown roses in Culpeper VA, Houston TX, New Orleans LA and now in Blaine TN. She is an "equal opportunity" rose grower- there is no class or obscure cultivar she wouldn't like to try.  She grows over five hundred roses and with her husband Larry, is actively trying to salvage soon-to-be lost roses from East Tennessee.  She is a member of both the Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society.  They are both ARS Consulting Rosarians.  She is a retired organic geochemist and he is a retired petroleum geologist.

For Love or Money:   This work is written from a particular point of view - mine - and I  love roses. Many articles written on this subject, even some of those appearing in "American Rose Magazine", have been written by people whose main objective has been to promote the spread of RRD as a bioherbicide to control 'R. multiflora'.  In some cases the authors knew little about roses grown for pleasure, and it shows.  While there has been some exemplary work done in this field, I think it's time some of the work, especially the Iowa State University field tests (see chapter 8) by Epstein & Hill, receives additional scrutiny.    

I try to evaluate data objectively, but there should be no doubt where I stand on the subject of enhancing a virus to kill our National Floral Emblem - the rose.  I'm against it!  I am still learning.  When I find out something new or that something I said is wrong, I'll post it.  That's what science is about!   The agenda here, quite simply, is to try to help people save their roses, to share knowledge freely, and to provide some balance in the discussion of Rose Rosette Disease.  

If my love of roses inserts a bias, so be it.  I suggest it presents far less influence on my interpretation of data than the prospect of a cutoff of grant money did and possibly does for proponents of RRD (as a bioherbicide) the moment they admit it doesn't work.  
Ann  Peck       

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