White tiny hairs on purple sweet potato leaves #817073

Asked November 30, 2022, 11:30 AM EST

Can you tell me what the line of tiny white hair like structures that are growing down the spine of leaf are? They don't rub off. They are much smaller than mealy bugs. Does the leaf do this naturally or is there a problem

Lafayette County Missouri

Expert Response

Good Evening, 

Thank you for contacting the University of Minnesota Extension. 

You did not indicate if the tiny white hairs are on the tops or underneath the leaves. Is this a plant you brought inside for the winter? If so, did this happen when it was outdoors? Is this affecting the vibrancy or growth of the plant? Is it on all the leaves or only some. 

I don't think this is something that grows from the plant itself. I am unable to find any research indicating a pest or disease that would fit your description.  I would ensure the plant has not been overwatered. 

I would attempt to wash the plant to see if it makes any difference. I am attaching a link to the U of M Extension Yard and Garden website about keeping houseplants clean:

Good Luck!

Maureen Graber Replied December 01, 2022, 8:11 PM EST
Here's a picture. It's in a science classroom. In a pot. They don't wipe off.

On Thu, Dec 1, 2022, 7:11 PM Ask Extension <> wrote:
The Question Asker Replied December 02, 2022, 9:48 AM EST


I am reaching out to our experts for their feedback. I apologize for the delay in responding. 

Maureen Graber Replied December 05, 2022, 1:24 PM EST


Here is the reply I received: 

My guess is that these are adventitious air roots forming. You can see some in the picture. The lighting may be helping these to form on the top of the leaves. I'd leave them and see what develops, maybe try planting the leaf.jw
Julie Weisenhorn, M.A., M.Ag
Associate Extension Professor and Educator
UMN Department of Horticultural ScienceMinnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum DrIve, Chaska, MN 55318

I hope this answers your question. 

Maureen Graber Replied December 05, 2022, 2:05 PM EST

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