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Blossom wilt is a fungal disease of apples, pears, plums, cherries and related ornamental trees. It kills blossoms, spurs and small branches. The problem is caused by the same fungi responsible for brown rot of the fruit.
Blossom wilt. Image: RHS/Tim Sandall
Blossom wilt is a fungal disease of trees, especially fruit trees, caused by the fungi Monilinia laxa and M. fructigena. The two fungi are very closely related and indistinguishable to the naked eye. M. laxa more commonly causes blossom wilt on pears and stone fruit, and a specific form, M. laxa f. sp. mali is restricted to apples. M. fructigena more commonly causes the disease known as brown rot in the fruit.
Many tree fruit are affected, including apples, pears, plums, cherries, nectarines, peaches, apricots, and ornamental varieties.
The damage begins at flowering time in mid-spring, but becomes more obvious as shoots die back in late spring and early summer.
You may see the following symptoms:
There are no fungicides labelled specifically to control blossom wilt. On ornamental trees only, fungicides applied for other purposes, such as powdery mildew or rust control, may give some incidental control though this is not claimed by the manufacturers.
Fungicides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining fungicides available to gardeners)
Chemicals: storing and disposing safelyChemicals: using a sprayerChemicals: using safely and effectively
Fruit becomes infected through wounds, particularly bird damage. Affected fruits exhibit brown rot, mummify and remain hanging on the tree and, where they touch the bark, cause small infections (cankers). The fungus remains in the dead fruit and cankers over winter and releases spores in the spring to cause the blossom-wilt phase of the disease. These infections in turn release spores to infect wounded fruit.
AppleApple cankerApple scabBacterial cankerBrown rotDisposing of diseased materialFireblightSilver leafTree and Shrubs: scab diseases
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