INMONROE-L ArchivesArchiver > INMONROE > 2001-10 > 1002810280
From: "Linda Katherine Jenkins-Wensel" <>
Subject: [INMONROE] St. Vitus'Dance and Ergot fungus on grain
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 07:24:40 -0700
Don't quote me on this.......it is just a shadow in the remote corners
of my brain.
Ergot (see definition below) fungus on grain (usually rye) sometimes
caused the condition known as St. Vitus' Dance. When grain was stored
in damp conditions the grain would get infected with the Ergot spores.
Even grain in the fields during damp conditions can get the fungus on
I read a book long ago, about a town where all the people got St.
Vitus' Dance.......can't remember where the town was, maybe in France.
They thought they were possessed.
Ergot fungus infects many cereals and grasses; these include (in order
of decreasing susceptibility), rye, triticale, wheat and barley. Oats
are rarely affected.
Ergot overwinters as black grain-sized fungal structures. In late
spring, these ergots germinate and form tiny spore-producing
mushroom-like structures. Infectious spores are carried by wind currents
to the host during the flowering stage. Infection of the cereal flowers
may produce a secondary phase called honeydew. Honeydew is a shiny
sticky liquid that oozes from infected flowers and contains large
numbers of ergot spores. The spores spread to adjacent flowers and heads
by insects and rain splash particularly to the open flowers of rye.
Ergot that germinates in June can infect early flowering weed grasses,
which produce honeydew when cereals are flowering.
Cool, damp weather in late spring and early summer favors ergot
germination, helps prolong the flowering period of cereals and grasses,
and increases the probability of ergot infection
Ergot thrives in a cool, wet growing and harvesting season and even
today small amounts of ergot are to be found in rye crops. I believe
Canada has a big problem with this, because of minerals (copper) or lack
of, in their soil.
The Ergot fungus is also found in various herbs used for home remedies
and got introduced into a household that way.
|[INMONROE] St. Vitus'Dance and Ergot fungus on grain by "Linda Katherine Jenkins-Wensel" <>|