Quince leaf blight
Quince leaf blight is caused by the fungus Diplocarpon mespili. In wet seasons it can cause severe leaf spotting and premature leaf fall, whilst fruit may also be spotted and distorted.
Scientific name Diplocarpon mespili (syn. Fabraea maculata)
Plants affected Mainly a problem on common quince, but a range of other plants in the family Rosaceae can also be affected
Main symptoms Dark spots on foliage and fruit, premature leaf loss
Caused by Fungus
Timing Spring until autumn
What is quince leaf blight?
Common quince (Cydonia oblonga) is very often affected by this leaf spot disease, particularly in wet summers. The vigour and cropping of the tree may be reduced in severe cases.
On affected trees, quince leaf blight leads to a number of symptoms;
- Small dark spots with grey centres are formed on the leaves
- Numerous spots can develop on a single leaf – these may coalesce and the leaves turn brown or yellow and fall prematurely
- Spotting and distortion of the fruits may also occur
- Infected shoot tips can die back
The RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control. If chemical controls are used, they should be used only in a minimal and highly targeted manner.
- Rake up and dispose of affected leaves as they fall, and also the rest of the leaves during autumn leaf fall
- Prune out any dead shoots during the winter
- Maintain good cultivation, especially feeding to help the tree grow more foliage
- There are differences between quince cultivars in their susceptibility to leaf blight. The wet summer of 2023 was very favourable for the disease, and in the quince collection at RHS Wisley the cultivars 'Serbian Gold' and 'Aromatnaya' showed good tolerance. They still developed leaf spots, but these remained small compared to those on susceptible cultivars, and they had little or no premature leaf fall
No fungicides are currently available for use on trees from which the fruit will be consumed.
The fungicide tebuconazole with trifloxystrobin (Provanto Fungus Fighter Plus, Toprose Fungus Control & Protect) has a recommendation for the control of leaf spots on ornamental plants. Additonally, the fungicides tebuconazole (Provanto Fungus Fighter Concentrate) and triticonazole (Fungus Clear Ultra) are labelled for the control of other diseases on ornamental plants. These fungicides may give some control of the disease on trees being grown as ornamental specimens, from which the fruit will not be consumed.
Inclusion of a product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.
Fungicides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining fungicides available to gardeners)
The fungus overwinters on dead twigs and on fallen leaves, and spores produced on these start new infections in the spring. Once the first leaf spots have formed, fruiting bodies develop within them, and the spores that they produce are splashed in rain droplets to create further infections on the leaves, shoot tips and fruit. The disease is therefore most severe during wet summers.
Diplocarpon mespili can also affect numerous other plants in the family Rosaceae, causing leaf spots and blotches (often similar in appearance to those on quince). Apart from common quince, it is seen most frequently on hawthorn, medlar, pyracantha and pear. However, outbreaks on these hosts are sporadic and usually far less damaging than those on quince.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.