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Tulip fire is a fungal disease of tulips caused by Botrytis tulipae, which produces brown spots and twisted, withered and distorted leaves. It is so named because plants appear scorched by fire.
Tulip fire. Image: RHS, Horticultural Science
Tulip fire is caused by the fungus Botrytis tulipae. It is closely related to the grey mould pathogen Botrytis cinerea. Leaf symptoms are visible from when leaves emerge in late winter until they die back in summer.
The disease only affects tulips.
You may see the following symptoms:
Tulips are also sometimes affected by grey bulb rot caused by another fungus, Rhizoctonia solani. This causes similar symptoms to tulip fire. Usually bulbs infected with Rhizoctonia solani fail to emerge, but if they do, they may be distorted in a similar way to tulip fire. However, they won’t show the fuzzy grey fungal growth.
There are no chemical controls available to home gardeners for use against tulip fire.
Botrytis tulipae is closely related to the grey mould pathogen Botrytis cinerea. B. cinerea has a very wide host range, but B. tulipae is one of a number of species which attack specific plants, in this case only Tulipa spp.
This fungus spreads in two ways:
BulbsBulbs: plantingDisposing of diseased materialGrey mouldNew Disease Report by RHS Scientists - new disease affecting tulipsTulipsTulip viruses
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