Leaf Spot (General)
Various Leaf Spot Species
There is a wide variety of fungal leaf spots that infect perennials, shrub and trees. Some are specific to the host while others can affect a range of plants.
Generally light brown to purplish or blackish spots appear on the leaf and form concentric rings of fruiting bodies. The spots may leave holes, perforating the leaf or expand with pale green to yellowish margins and when the holes merge the leaf normally dies. There are many different types of leaf spot, some are discussed below.
Alternaria Leaf Spot (Alternaria nelumbii) forms a small reddish brown spots that are boarded in light green, and as they develop in size the leaf curls and dies from the margin inwards. Normally occurs on Nelumbo species (water lilies).
Helminthosporium Disease (Bipolris species), (Drechslera species) and (Exserophilum species) are responsible for several leaf spots that occur on all Turf Grass species. Generally they form black or white spots that may be faded and produce masses of spores in the thatch during late summer, under humid conditions. The life cycle is short and when conditions are favourable spores are splashed onto the foliage from the thatch, causing wide spread infection. Cynodon dactylon (common couch) is most susceptible and found in bowling or golf greens where it is a serious problem.
Banana Leaf Spot
Banana Leaf Spot (Mycosphaerella musicola) is found on many species of banana causing pale yellow streaks on the young leaves to turn brown with dark spots. The leaf then becomes dried, brown and dead commencing from the margins, eventually the leaf dies. Control requires removal of infected foliage or the spraying of a fungicide and fungicides should not be used during the fruiting period.
Lophostemon confertus (Brush Box)
Leaf Spot on Brush Box (Elsinoe species). This is a casual fungus that attacks the epidermal layer of the leaf, forming circular spots that are up to 25mm across and are often restricted by the main vein. These spots are a dull yellowish brown but can also have purplish patterns. A leaf may have more than one spot develop on its surface and normally appears on scattered leaves throughout the tree. This doesn't affect the vigour of Lophostemon confertus.
Palm Leaf-scab (Graphiola phoeicis) appears as yellow spots and develop into scabs or warts that are outwards hard and dark but with a soft centre with powdery yellowish brown spores. The infected leaves eventually die.
Palm Leaf Spot, Chamaedorea elegans
Palm Leaf Spot (Pestaloptiopsis species) appears as a small spot with a dark centre on the leaves and affects palms that are growing in shaded humid positions and normally control is not required, though infected fronds should be removed.
Source and Dispersal
Infection source is other contaminated plants and the spores are spread by wind or by splashing water. The fruiting bodies are black spots that appear on the damaged tissue releasing spores.
This fungus prefers a warm humid environment and leafy plants with soft new growth, particularly if they are crowded.
There are many ornamental and native plants that are hosts to a wide range of fungal leaf spots. Some specific ones are listed below. Plants such as Cornus or Paeonia species are infected by a large variety of leaf spots, while other plants attract a specific leaf spot.
Generally a healthy plant can tolerate fungal leaf spot attack, though it may make the plant look unsightly. In trees and shrubs it is difficult to control and generally not necessary, but in perennials and annuals control may be necessary in order to save the plant.
Acalypha and Arctotis species are infected by up to three leaf spots including (Cercospora acalyphae) and (Ramularia acalyphae) that rarely require control.
Acer species are infected by Purple Eye (Phyllosticta minima) which forms spots with brownish centres and purplish margins causing the death of the leaves.
Acer species are also infected by Tar Spot (Rhytisma acerinum) which forms round black spots that have yellow margins. Not normally seen on cultivated trees, but seen in forests.
Adiantum, Asplenium, Blechnum, Cyathea, Davallia, Nephrolepis, Platycerium, Polypodium and Pteris species are infected by the leaf spot (Pseudocercopora species) which forms circular brown spots on the fronds and heavy infection can defoliate a plant.
Aesculus species are occasionally infected with the leaf spot (Septoria hippocastani) which forms small brown spots.
Agave species are susceptible to the leaf spot (Coniothyrium concentricum), which appear as greyish spots up to 20mm (1in) across with concentric rings and black fruiting bodies. Affected leaves are destroyed as the infection spreads.
Albizia julibrissin is susceptible to the fungal leaf spot (gloeosporium aletridis), which does not normally require control.
Amelanchler, Chaenomeles, Crataegus and Rhaphiolepis species Mespilus germanica are infected by the leaf spot (Fabraea maculata) which may cause considerable damage during wet periods.
Aquilegia species can be infected by three types of Leaf Spot including (Ascochyta aquilegiae), (Cercospora aquilegiae) and (Septoria aquilegiae), normally appearing during humid conditions forming spots on the leaves.
Arbutus species are infected by two leaf spots (Septoria Unedonis) which produces small brown spots on the leaves and (Elsinoe mattirolianum).
Arctostaphylos manzanita is infected by the leave spot (Cryptostictis arbuti) which damages leaves but is not normally detrimental to the shrub.
Aspidistra species are infected by the leaf spot (Colletotrichum omnivorum) causing whitish spots on the leaves and petiole.
Aster species are infected by many leaf spots including (Alternaria species), (Cercosporella cana), ( Ovularia asteris) and (Septoria asteris).
Aucuba species are infected by several leaf spots, usually as a secondary infection after aphid attack. These include (Phyllosticta aucubae) and (Phyllostica aucubae).
Azalea (Rhododendron species) are susceptible to Leaf Scorch (Septoria azalea). This fungal disease forms reddish- brown spots which expand and engulf the leaf, with fruiting bodies appearing in the centre. Infected leaves die, then fall and the branchlets wilt. This problem is more serious during wet periods and may require control using a fungicide.
Banksia species are infected by several leaf spots causing chlorotic areas that have brown centres and is not normally a major problem for the plant.
Betula species may be infected by the Leaf Spots (Gloeosporium betularum) that forms brown spots with darker margins and (Cylindrosporium betulae) that also forms brown spots with faded indefinite margins.
Bougainvillea species are infected by the leaf spot (Cercosporidium bougainvilleae) which forms rounded spots with dark margins that yellowish ting. Infected leaves die and fall from the plant.
Calendula species are infected by the Leaf Spot (Cercospora calendulae) which rapidly infects the plant spotting the leaves and killing the plant.
Callicarpa species may be infected by the leaf spot (Atractilina callicarpae) forming irregular brownish spot or (Cercospora callicarpae) which can defoliate the plant in subtropical climates.
Campsis species may be infected by several fungal leaf spots including (Phyllosticta tecomae), (Septoria tecomae) and (Cercospora duplicata).
Carpinus species are infected by the leaf spots (Gloeosporium robergei), (Gnomoniella fimbriata) and (Septoria carpinea), all are minor infections not normally requiring control.
Carya species are infected by several leaf spots including (Gnomonia caryae) that infects leaves with irregular reddish spots on the upper surface with corresponding brown spore producing spots on the underside. It also has a secondary spore release that occurs on the dead leaves where it over winters. Other leaf spots include (monochaetia desmazierii) and (Marssonina juglandis).
Ceanothus species are susceptible to the leaf spot (Cercospora ceanothi) and (Phyllosticta ceanothi) both are of minor importance not requiring control.
Celtis species are infected by many leaf spots including (Cercosporella celtidis), (Cylindrosporium celtidis), (Phleospora celtidis) and (Septogloeum celtidis).
Chrysanthemums species are infected by the leaf spot (Septoria species) which forms yellow spots appear toward the edge of the leaves; these become enlarged brownish patches with yellow margins. Damaged areas may converge and in severe attacks and the leaves may fall prematurely or flower production is reduced.
Clematis species are infected by the fungal disease (Ascochyta clematidina) which may cause stem rot or leaf spots that are water soaked areas with reddish margins. The infection spreads from the leaves to the stem causing wilting and eventually girdling the stem killing the plant. There are many fungal leaf spots that infect this plant including (Cercospora rubigo) and (Septoria clematidis)
Cordyline and Dracaena species may be infected by the leaf spot (Phyllosticta maculicola) which forms small brownish spots that have yellowish margins and has black fruiting bodies that forms coils of spores. These plants are also susceptible to other leaf spots such as (Glomerella cincta) and (Phyllosticta dracaaaenae). Keep foliage dry to avoid infection.
Cynodon dactylon, Pennisetum clandestinum and many other Turf Grasses are susceptible to Helminthosporium Disease.
Daphne species are infected by the leaf spot (Gloeosporium mezerei) and (Marssonina daphnes) both of which form thickish brown spots that are seen on both sides of the leaves. Infected leaves turn yellowish before dieing.
Dendranthema species are infected by many leaf spots such as (Septoria chrysanthemi) which first forms yellowish spots up to 25mm (1in) across that become black. Infected leaves die prematurely and persist on the plant.
Dianthus species may be infected by the leaf spot (Septoria dianthi). It forms light brown rounded spots that have a purplish border. The scattered spots on the lower leaves can also be found on the stems and the spores are dispersed by water from the tiny black fruiting bodies.
Dieffenbachia species are infected by several leaf spot fungi including (Cephalosporium species) and (Myrothecium species).
Eucalyptus species are infected by many fungal leaf spots such as (Mycosphaeralla species), (Hendersonia species) and (Monocheatia monochaeta). Generally leaf spots appear on the juvenile or new leaves causing brownish spots that enlarge and may have a purplish halo around the margin. Mature adult leaves are not normally infected and the trees rarely require control measures.
Fern species are infected by the leaf spot, (Alternaria polypodii). This fungus appears as brown circular or oblong spots that congregate along the margins of the pinnae causing the fronds to turn brown and die. It is spread by wind currents from plant to plant and control methods include removing infected fronds and maintaining a drier atmosphere.
Ficus species are infected by various fungal leaf spot including (Pseudocercospora species). Generally the fungal attack forms circular or irregular dark coloured spots on the leaves eventually causing them to fall prematurely.
Ficus elastica is susceptible to many fungal leaf spots including (Alternaria species), (Leptostromella elastica) and (Phyllosticta roberti).
Fragaria x ananassa (Strawberry) is infected by the fungal leaf spot (Mycospharella fragariae). The mature leaf is initially infected with well defined brown spots that that turn light grey with red-purplish margins. As the spots merge they form large brown blotches and the leaf turns yellow then dies. This fungal attack normally occurs on plants in poor health and can be a serious problem early in the season seriously damaging stock.
Fraxinus species are infected by the leaf spot (Gloeosporium aridum) giving the leaf a scorched appearance as large blotches appear from the margin or apex and turn brown with a papery texture. It is more prevalent during rainy periods and infected leaves fall prematurely. Collect and depose of fallen leaves otherwise control is not normally required.
Fuchsia species may be infected by the leaf spot (Septoria species) or ( Cercospora species), both form spots with dead centres and dark margins.
Gladiolus species are infected by Hard Rot or Leaf Spot (Septoria gladioli). On the corms reddish brown circular water soaked spots become large and sunken. These areas dry out and form obvious margins. The leaves may also have these symptoms but is not commonly seen.
Hemerocallis species are infected by several leaf spots including (Cercospora hemerocallis) and (Heterosporium iridis). These may be in the form of black spots or brownish spots that converge killing the leaf. Infected leaves should be removed and burnt.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Hibiscus syriacus and Hibiscus tiliaceus are susceptible to several fungal leaf spots including (Ascochyta abelmoschi), (Cerospora kellermanii) and (Phyllosticta hibiscina). All cause spotting or blotching of the leaf surface; remove and destroy infected parts.
Hydrangea species are infected by four fungal species including (Ascochyta hydrangeae), (Phyllosticta hydrangeae) and (Septoria hydrangeae).
Iris species are infected by several fungal leaf spots including (Alternaria iridicola) and (Macosphaerella species).
Iris species are also infected by the leaf spot (Didymellina macrospore) that forms greyish spots with brown water soaked borders and coalesce on the upper part of the leaf. This casual organism commonly occurs after flowering killing the leaves but will not infect the bulbs. The bulbs become weak over several seasons due to the decreased foliage.
There is also a Bacterial Leaf Spot (Bacterium tardicrescens) that is commonly mistaken as a fungal problem causing translucent spots that coalesce and involve the entire leaf. Normally found on Iris species.
Laburnum anagyroides is infected by the Leaf Spot (Phyllosticta cytisii). The leaf forms light grey spots with no definite margin and mature to brown. The black fruiting bodies appear as dots in the centre of the spot.
Leucanthemum species are infected by the leaf spot (Cerocspora chrysanthemi) and (Septoria leucanthemi).
Magnolia species are susceptible to many species including (Alternaria tenuis), (Mycosphaerella milleri) and (Phyllosticta species). Leaves generally turn brown from the apex or margins turning brown or spots appear on the leaf surface and leaves become yellow before withering and dieing. Normally the make the tree look poorly but have little effect on its growth. Control is not normally required.
Nerium oleander is susceptible to several fungal leaf spots including (Cercospora nerella), (Cercospora repens), (Gloesporium species) and (Phyllosticta nerii). Infected leaves should be removed but generally control is not required.
Nyssa sylvatica is infected by the leaf spot (Mycosphaerella nyssaecola) forming irregular purplish blotches.
Orchids such as Cattleya, Cymbidium, Cypripedium, Dendrobium, Epidendrum, Paphiopedilum, Phalaenopsis and Zygopetalum species are infected by several leaf spots including (Cerospora, Colletotrichum and Phyllosticta species). Normally forming dark or dead, circular or irregular areas on the leaves.
Palms such as Syagrus, Howea, Phoenix, Roystonea and Washingtonia species are infected by Leaf-scab (Graphiola phoeicis).
Palms such as Archontophoenix, Caryota, Chamaedorea, Cocos, Dypsis, Howea, Liculia, Linospadix, Livistona, Phoenix, Ptychosperma, Rhapis, Roystonea, Syagrus, Washingtonia and Wodyetia species are susceptible to several fungal leaf spots including;
(Bipolaris spp.), (Cylindrocladium spp.), (Colletotrichum spp.) and (Pestalotiopsis spp.).
Generally the circular leaf spots are brown and may have a yellow halo such as Palm Ring Spot (Bipolaris incurvata). They vary in size from small to large depending on the species. When a plant is healthy it recovers from attack, but heavy infections can defoliate, causing the collapse of the plant.
Palms are also infected by the Brachybasidium Leaf Spot (Brachybasidium pinangae). This fungus forms angular leaf lesions that produce fruiting bodies on the underside and is commonly found on Archontophoenix species.
Passiflora species are infected with many types of leaf spot such as (Alternaria passiflorae).
Phoenix species are susceptible to False Smut (Graphiola phoenicis). This fungus forms yellow leaf spots that become hard with a raised with a blackish scab, which produces masses of powdery spores that are thread-like.
Pittosporum species are susceptible to the leaf spots (Alternaria tenuissima), (Phyllostica species) and (Cercospora pittospori). Circular or angular dark spots appear on the leaves and are surrounded by necrotic areas that are yellowish. Generally removal of infected leaves is adequate control.
Poa species and other cool season grasses are infected by Winter Fusarium Leaf Disease (Fusarium species), which causes small pale spots that are water soaked to appear on the leaves that turn red-brown. Infected leaves become bleached then wither and die, but the infection will not affect the crown or roots of the plant. It can be identified by pink, cotton-like mycelium and the plant prefers cold wet weather.
Populus species are infected by several fungal leaf spots including (Ciborinia bifrons, Ciborinia confundens), and (Mycosphaerella populicola).
Prunus species are infected by several leaf spots including (Cercospora circumscissa and Septoria ravenelii).
Pseudotsuga menziesii Douglas Fir is infected by the Leaf Cast (Rhabdocline pseudotsugae) Symptoms include the needles becoming yellowish at the apex and extending down the needle and spreading to others during moist spring weather turning them brown. Brownish scorched areas are noticeable on the tree from a distance. Control; is not normally required for mature trees but nursery stock may require spraying with a copper based fungicide.
Psidium guajava (Guava) is infected by (Glomerella cingulate). This fungus courses spots to appear on leaves and mummifies and blackens immature fruit or rots mature fruit. This fungus can devastate a guava crop.
Quercus species are infected by several types of leaf spot including (Cylindrosporium microspilum) and (Marssonina martini). These attacks tend top take place later in the season and normally not detrimental to the tree.
Rhododendron species are infected by a large variety of fungal leaf spots including (Cercospora rhododendri) and (lophodermium melaleucum)
Salix species are infected by several fungal leaf spots including (Ascochyta salicis) and (Septogloeum salicinum).
Senecio species are infected by the fungal leaf spot (Alternaria cinerariae) and (Cercospora species), forming dark rounded or angular spots.
Spiraea species are attacked by the fungal leaf spot (Cylindrosporium filipendulae).
Stenotaphrum secundatum (Buffalo) turf grass is susceptible to Grey Leaf Spot (Pyricularia grisea) in domestic and commercial situations devastating lawns. This fungal disease infects the stems and leaves with small brown lesions that enlarge rapidly forming grey-brown spots that have darker borders or surrounded by yellow chlorotic areas. This infection is commonly found on newly laid turf but will also infect established lawns. It is most prevalent during warm humid periods in soil with a high nitrogen level.
Syringa species are attacked by up to six species of leaf spot including (Cercospora lilacis) and (Phyllostica species).
Syzygium species are infected by fungal leaf spots but normally control is not required.
Tagetes species are infected by the leaf spot (Septoria tageticola), which starts at the base and moves progressively up through the plant, covering the leaves in grey to black spots.
Trillium species are host to several leaf spots, including (Colletotrichum peckii) (Gloeosporium Trillii) (Heterosporium trillii).
Ulmus species are infected by many fungal leaf spots including (Gnomonia ulmea) and (Cercospora sphaeriaeformis).
Veronica species are infected by the leaf spot (Septoria veronicae). The symptoms include small violet to brown spots appear on the upper surface of the leaf and correspondingly yellowish brown on the underside. The spots converge forming a scorched shot-hole appearance and eventually death of the leaf.
Vaccinium ovatum is infected by the leaf spot (Rhytisma vaccinii) and (Dothichiza caroliniana).
Vicia species are infected by the leaf spot (Erostrotheca multiformis), which forms greyish spots that enlarge and may defoliate the plant.
Wisteria species are infected by three fungal leaf spots (Phyllostica wisteriae), (Septoria wisteriae) and (Phomatospora wisteriae).
Remove and destroy infected plant material and avoid overhead watering. When planting select infection resistant varieties. Practice crop rotation and add pot ash to the soil to decrease the plants venerability to the disease. Many species of fungus overwinter in fallen leaves, remove and destroy any litter under the plant.
Winter Fusarium Leaf Disease in Turf Grasses can be minimised by aerating the soil, reducing thatch and avoid excessive nitrogen in the soil.
Protective fungicides such as zineb or copper oxychloride should be sprayed at the first sign of infection and cuttings should be sprayed as they start to grow.
Always read the label for registration details and direction of use prior to application of any chemicals.