Monday, September 19, 2016

Poinsettia Scab Disease


Poinsettia scab is a disease caused by the fungus  Sphaceloma poinsettiae. It is a problem for greenhouse poinsettia growers in Florida and Central America and is quickly spreading to other regions. Some Euphorbia weed species are also hosts of the disease. It has been in Hawaii for many years.




The disease affects both the leaves and stems; small, round lesions form on the leaves. These spots develop whitish to brown centers, have a dark red to purple rim, and often show a yellow halo. Occasionally, an infected stem will grow six inches or more above the rest of the plants. This is due to the production of growth regulating chemicals called gibberellins, produced by the fungus.



The disease thrives in high humidity and wet growing conditions.  Splashing water will easily spread the spores from leaf to leaf and plant to plant. The key in controlling this disease is to stop the spread of the spores. When frequent rains occur, a cover over the plant or plants is one solution. Another approach would be to apply a protective copper fungicide that would prevent the splashed spores from starting new infections.  

Infected plants will usually continue to live. However, the severity of the disease is dependent upon the amount of rainfall. Remove infected leaves, and if appropriate, prune out infected stems.  Then apply either a copper fungicide or one with the active ingredient chlorothalonil (Bravo, Daconil). As new leaves emerge, reapply the fungicide. In the future, if the disease is not severe, removing infected leaves may keep the disease under control.