The bacterium Pseudomonas syringae exists as a number of different strains, known as pathovars and abbreviated to 'pv'. Most of these strains, including P. syringae pv. delphinii, have a restricted host range.
Black blotch of Delphinium has not been studied extensively, but it is thought that the bacterium can overwinter on old plant debris in the soil. Bacteria are then splashed up by rain to affect the current season's foliage through the air pores (stomata) on the lower leaf surface. Prolonged spells of wet weather will allow further spread of the disease over the plant.