Fungus spots on palm tree leaves

Written by erin maurer
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Fungus spots on palm tree leaves
The leaves of palm trees might become spotted when fungus is present. (palm trees image by john barber from Fotolia.com)

Fungal infections are one of the primary threats to the health of a palm tree. Typically, evidence of a fungal infection is first seen on the palm's leaves. Spots might appear or leaves might change colours from dark green to yellow or pale green. Diagnosing fungal infections is difficult and might require consulting an expert. For many infections, there are few treatments but monitoring plants is the best way to keep them healthy.

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Types of fungus

There are three main types of fungus that attack palm trees, according to the Tree Help website. Gandomera Butt Rot, caused by the fungus Ganoderma zonatum, is a potentially lethal disease that afflicts Florida palm trees. The more common fungi cause conditions known as bud rot and Fusarium wilt. Other fungi that might cause spots on palm tree leaves include Annellophora, Bipolaris, Cercospora, Colletotrichum, Calonectria, Exserohilum, Gliocladium, Pestalotiopsis, Pestalotia, Phaeotrichoconis, Phyllachora, Pseudocercospora and Stigmina, according to the University of Florida.

Symptoms

Fungal infections are generally characterised by small lesions on leaves that range from yellow to black. According to the University of Florida, fungus spots on leaves might spread and take over the entire leaf if left untreated. Bud rot is characterised by wilting palm fronds. Gandomera butt rot causes older leaves to drop off the tree and new leaves grow in yellow or pale green. Fungus appears on the trunk of the tree. Fusarium wilt begins on the lower leaves of the palm trees and brown streaks appear on leaf stems. Palm trees grow small, baby leaves at the base of the palm frond, known as leaflets. Leaflets on one side of the frond wilt and die while the others stay green.

Underlying conditions

Underlying conditions can contribute to a fungus' ability to attack a tree. According to an article published in the St. Petersburg Times, fungi are most likely to attack a sick tree rather than a healthy one. Pest infections, poor care and deficiencies in the soil might contribute to the decline of a palm tree.

Treatments

Fungal infections are difficult to treat and an accurate diagnosis is essential for proper treatment. An arborist should examine fungal spores for diagnosis, according to the University of Florida. There is no known cure for palm trees infected with Fusarium wilt and Ganoderma Butt Rot, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Trees infected with these conditions must be removed immediately. Refrain from planting new trees in the same soil because fungus might remain. Fungicides might help treat other forms of fungal infections.

Healthy palm growing tips

The best way to prevent fungus from invading palm trees is to grow healthy trees. Fertilise trees with time released, 8-2-12-14 fertilisers in May, September and February. Leave healthy fronds alone because over-pruning increases a tree's potential for contracting disease. Prune away dead growth with sanitised tools. Finally, check leaves for signs of spotting to catch fungal diseases early.

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