Symptoms: Occasionally, the leaves of plants may become twisted and distorted or the new growth will curl and become deform. Often these leaves will also be discolored.
Diagnosis: Leaf distortion may be caused by several factors including:

1. Herbicide Damage - Certain phenoxy type herbicides such as the commonly used 2,4-D are known to cause leaf distortion. This is not so bad when it is happening to a dandelion in the lawn but when non-target plants are affected, it becomes a problem. Take care to avoid any misapplication of herbicides in the landscape to prevent spraying nearby plants or allowing drift on a windy day.

2. Insect Damage - Sucking or rasping insects such as thrips, aphids, scales, mealybugs, leafhoppers, spider mites and whiteflies may cause leaf distortion. During their feeding, they remove sap or damage leaf tissue which may cause the leaves to curl or otherwise become distorted.

3. Frost Injury - Cold temperatures can freeze plant cells and cause them to burst. When this happens around the edges of the leaf, it can become twisted and distorted.

4. Drought - Lack of adequate water will cause the leaf to curl.

5. Disease - Fungal diseases such as peach leaf curl can cause a discoloration and distortion of the leaf of certain plants. Also, virus infection can cause leaves to twist and turn in unusual ways.

 

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

 

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