Growth on Camellia Tree

Asked July 26, 2017, 9:21 PM EDT

I have a large camellia tree that has crabapple like growths at the end of some (a lot) of branches. In addition, it seems to be dropping a lot of leaves, although there is new foliage. The growths appear to have a small jelly-like substance in the middle of them and some that I have pulled off of the tree look like they might have had an insect emerge from them. Do you have any idea what these are and how I can get rid of them? Thank you. WendyO.

Lane County Oregon

3 Responses

Thank you for attaching images of the unusual structures on your camellia.

You can rest easy. They are seed pods. To get rid of them cut or snap them off. You can compost them if you have a pile/bin.

If the plant is dropping leaves, they may simply be old and will be replaced. Or the matter may be more serious, anything ranging from a water shortage to a disease.

I can be more precise if you send several images when you reply to this email -- 1. the bush overall; 2. a mid shot; 3. and a picture of several affected leaves still on the branch and near normal leaves.

Thank you for your quick response and I'm greatly relieved to know that it's not a disease. I'm curious why my other two camellia trees have never grown these seed pods. Regarding my second question about the leaves dropping, I have attached several images as you requested. Thanks so much for your help. WendyO.

Thank you for the additional images.

I suspect, but don't know for certain, that the shrub is short of water. Camellias do quite well here with less than average garden watering. But with the past several years of lower-than-normal rainfall, plus the heat of 2016 -- also heat 0f 2017 -- many trees and shrubs are in trouble. And that's true in spite of the recent wet winter an spring.

I suspect the camellia will do fine if irrigated deeply at least once a month through our dry months. The goal for that monthly irrigation is to moisten soil to about 8 inches. You'll probably need to run several successive on-off cycles in order to help the water soak in.

I also suggest you add a mulch at the base of the shrub. Start about 6 inches from the trunk and extend a foot or so beyond the dripline at the tips of the branches.

The best mulch for woodies is coarse bark chips, about 4 inches deep. If you can't tolerate that, add bark dust to about 2 inches deep, covering the ground as explained above.

If you have additional questions, please ask.