A 'Currant' Threat!

Nate discovers some risky rust-covered plants in his family's back yard.

  • Title: A 'Currant' Threat

  • Nate and his parents spent winter break with his older sister, Karen, at her new home near Salt Lake City, Utah.  They spent a bunch of time on the slopes and the snow was awesome!  Several months later, they are getting ready for another visit...

  • Nate's mom suggests that he dig up a few small black currant bushes from the backyard and bring them to Karen for her garden.  Nate's mom: 'She does love baking with them!'

  • When Nate starts digging up the currant plants the next day, he notices that a lot of leaves are covered in orange spots.  He remembers that a few years earlier, they pruned all the lower limbs from their whitebark pine to protect it from some fungus called white pine blister rust.

  • Hang on!!  What was the funny name of those pines I didn't recognize at Karen's last winter...limber pine?  Is that some kind of white pine!?

  • He looks it up on his phone and learns that all white pines have needles in buncles of five and that limber pine is in that group.  Nate texts his sister:

    -Hey Sis, can you send me some pictures of the pines in your backyard?

    -right now? why?

    -tell you later. just be sure to get some close ups of the needles

    -whatever bro, hope these are good enough.

    The pictures arrive and Nate was right...FIVE NEEDLES!

  • Nate: "MOM! If we bring these plants, we might infect her pines with a deadly disease!  Maybe we should find something else for her while we're there."

  • They wait and, sure enough, find a native plant nursery in Salt Lake City that specializes in edibles.  The owner explains that white pine blister rust hasn't been found in Utah yet and they hope it never is.

  • He helps them pick out some chokecherry and elderberry bushes for Karen's place.  He even sends them home with some samples of their fruit!

  • They put the plants in the ground that afternoon and then do some celebrating in the kitchen.  Maybe it's knowing that they weren't the ones to introduce white pine blister rust to Utah, but everyone agrees, Karen's scones taste extra sweet today!

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