is it natural or a pest?

rosebuddy(z5Ont)October 19, 2012

I have a plant which was named a vietnamese ivy by my nursery. It has large leaves and I've noticed what looks like salt crystals, especially on the leaves that are just starting to open. Plant doesn't seem stressed but i've never seen this before. They come off really easily. Is this normal behaviour for leaves to open?

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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Never heard of it and neither has google- oh for latin names!
Closest I could find was Pellionia:

Here is a link that might be useful: pellionia?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 3:14PM
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Polly381(5/6)

Hi Rose
could you post a picture of the plant then a leaf with the crystals on it?
That way we can get a better idea.
thanks

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 3:48PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm guessing your plant is Tetrastigma voinierianum and your phenomenum called "pearl bodies"

Search the binomial and add pearl bodies (like this): "Tetrastigma voinierianum" "pearl bodies" for more info.

Here's one quote:

"..... One more surprise awaits you, if you have a hand lens. On the raised veins of the lower leaf, you will readily observe several dozen tiny white structures scattered across each leaflet. These appear to be butterfly eggs or minute insects--at least that's what I thought at first glance! But with a microscope the real identity cannot be mistaken. These many-celled structures are parts of the plant, and are rich in lipid (oil) droplets. The literature calls them pearl bodies or pearl glands. After carefully studying them on leaves of the unrelated balsa tree (Ochroma pyramidale), where they also occur along lower veins, Dennis O'Dowd (1980) suggested that pearl bodies probably function as ant food--that is, as a reward, presumably for the protection ants provide against herbivores (American Journal of Botany 67:543-549). Each pearl body has a constricted base and can be easily removed from the vein. We assume that pearl bodies are harvested quickly in nature, as the leaves expand, but at MEMBG, where leaf-tending ants are absent, some mature leaflets still possess these structures.

Larger, more spherical pearl bodies occur on the terminal branches of male and female inflorescences (flower clusters), on individual flower pedicels (stalks), and, occasionally, near the ovary base on female flowers. Like their counterparts on the leaves, these oily food bodies would provide a reward for ants while keeping them from robbing nectar and pollen from the flowers."

Al

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 5:10PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Yep, we need a picture of the plant. I can pretty much guess what the little crystals are...people bring it up a few times a year in a number of the forums. But, I'm not telling you until I see a decent picture of the plant.
I can tell you that it's nothing to worry about. :-)

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 5:20PM
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rosebuddy(z5Ont)

Tapla figured out my plant how I don't know. Charging up my camera batteries to give it a try but it is for sure a tetrastigma voinerianum (i'll never remember that). So I will now try to look up pearl bodies but if you can tell me anything about it I would appreciate it. I just noticed a lot of white crystals underneath my larger leaves and don't want to spray with insecticide if it is harmless. Thanks to all!!!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 5:45PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hmmmm - I thought about lithocysts (rock cells) that contain cystoliths (cell rocks), but they're not easily removed from the tissue because the former is actually a large epidermal cell ..... and I thought about plants that exude Ca and various salts in guttative solutions that evaporate and leave the dissolved solids behind in crystals on the leaf dermis ..... but I settled on the 'pearl bodies' when I found they were a noted trait of Tetrastigma voinierianum, aka Vietnamese ivy - so I'm curious about what you're thinking.

May we have a drum roll please ...... while we await the picture?!

Al

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 6:00PM
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rosebuddy(z5Ont)

May be a long drum roll but I will do my best. Not a high tech person but this will give me practise if I can figure out camera to internet. Thanks again (my plant especially thanks you for not heading into the chemical spray)

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 6:16PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Just copy paste this (in bold), including the quotation marks, to your browser & you'll get quite a bit of info: "Tetrastigma voinierianum" "pearl bodies"

To find your plant, I followed a circuitous route. I found an obscure reference to a synonym "man-eating vine" on a forum where they were talking about goldfinches. That took me to another hit that contained another synonym "chestnut vine", which also had the binomial, fortunately. Then I used the binomial with a few combinations of some botanical terms for dermal structures & got a bunch of hits on 'pearl bodies'.

Still, I want to hear what Dorie has to say about the stuff on the leaves if she's not in agreement. It wouldn't be the first time I've been trumped by something from her that made more sense.

I'm sure it likes the standard treatment - moist but not wet soil, so a very free-draining soil you can water without worrying the soil will remain wet so long it causes problems with root function or root rot (important), and bright light but not direct sun. I did catch in passing that it does NOT like cool temps at all, so above 55* always, please, and above 65 would best. I'd use a fertilizer with a 3:1:2 or 2:1:2 ratio (3:1:2 is very easy to find). If you're unsure about fertilizer RATIOS vs NPK%, just ask. From what I caught, it sounds VERY vigorous, so it should be easy to grow if you can get the cultural conditions close to pleasing.

Best luck!

Al

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 6:37PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Is this your plant? Tetrastigma is related to grape vines! (Vitaceae)

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 6:44PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Here's my well thought out and researched response....

Here is a link that might be useful: Please click here

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 9:51AM
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rosebuddy(z5Ont)

Think I've figured out how to send a picture. Leaves on the left show the underside and the crystals attached. It does look like a grape ivy but the leaves are much larger

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 10:06AM
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rosebuddy(z5Ont)

Hellooo Anybody out there? Wondering what the consensus is. Am I free of pests? Does this look like pearl bodies or something more serious that I should get cracking on to fix. Thanks for any input

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 5:02PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

If its the plant that i posted a pic of, and I believe it is, you can relax!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 5:37PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Follow the link below - it should help you draw your own conclusions.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: More info

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 5:47PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Looks conclusive to me! Plants are amazing!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 5:52PM
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rosebuddy(z5Ont)

Thanks so much. One more question and I will let this post go to bed. Am I to be expecting ants as house guests? Getting to be below freezing here but is this a possibility in the future?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 6:09PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Not sure about that. I imagine that where this plant grows in the wild a certain species of ants would interact with this plant. But outside of that habitat the ants wont have encountered the plant so wont be attracted to them.
Its a kind of symbiosis, certain insects working with certain plants.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 6:41PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

;-) So you sleep well tonight ..... ants are opportunists. If an ant finds your plant and makes it back to the colony, it's likely the colony will know your plant is an opportunity and take advantage; but the same is true of that jelly or honey jar you might have put back in the cupboard with a little sticky stuff still on the outside of the jar. It's not like they can smell it from outside the house, or home in on it from afar ..... and if they DO find it, just come back to this thread & we'll tell you how to quickly remedy it.

Best luck with your new plant, RB. It looks like it should be fun!

Al

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 6:42PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

But before you relax can we mention the dark patch around the stem, presumably from watering? I'd prefer to see the whole of the potting medium dark or none. The little puddle worries me a bit. Maybe watering in dribs and drabs rather then thoroughly and seldom?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 12:51PM
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