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Picture of the Week for
8 May 2000

Volutella Blight of Pachysandara

Gail Ruhl, Plant Disease Diagnostician

The most devastating disease of pachysandra is leaf blight and stem canker, caused by the fungus Volutella pachysandricola. This disease can destroy large areas in a bed. Infected leaves usually first develop tan or brown blotches with dark brown margins, which expand, often with concentric lighter and darker zones. Stem and stolon cankers can become numerous and plants start to wilt and die. Cankers appear as watersoaked diseased areas, turn brown, shrivel and often girdle the stem. Infections often begin in damaged or senescent plant parts and spread into healthy plant parts. V. pachysandricola is a wound parasite, capable of girdling stems within 2 weeks of infection. Under warm, humid conditions in late spring and summer, the fungus produces pink fruiting structures containing masses of fungal spores on the surfaces of cankers and undersurfaces of infected leaves.

Volutella blight of pachysandra is often associated with plant stresses such as recent transplanting, exposure to bright sunlight, shearing, scale insects, and previous winter damage. Normally this disease does little damage to vigorous plants, so providing good growing conditions is the most important control measure. Some pachysandra beds have been aided by thinning of the plants to reduce dampness and humidity. Severely diseased plants should be dug out and destroyed.

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Last updated: 15 May 2000/tlm.