Dogwood Anthracnose: Yet Another Introduced Plant Pathogen
(Pretend you are entering the grounds of Camp David, Maryland, with the President of the United States
this is a locality of high infection near the type locality of the fungus that causes the disease.)

Near this site in 1978 an anthracnose disease was observed on flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida). It spread rapidly, appearing only two after first being discovered in New York and Connecticut. Earlier (1976) the symptoms of the disease had been seen on another native dogwood species, Cornus nuttallii,in Washington state. Since 2002 the has been reported in Germany and Italy in nursery stock. Discula destructiva was described relatively recently (1991) from near Camp David, Maryland in the Catoctin Mountains as the fungus causing the disease. Within ten years of its first reported infection, 89% of the dogwoods in Maryland were dead and the rest were infected. Throughout infected areas in the United States, 30-40% of dogwood trees have died. A study in Great Smoky Mountains National Park showed that dogwood anthracnose may be controlled by controlled burning. The geographical origin of Discula destructiva is unknown, but the pattern of sudden and agressive onset of the disease at at least two distant localities in the USA, indicates the fungus was introduced from an exotic site. In fact genetic evidence suggests that at least two introductions occurred at about the same time in the western and eastern USA. Without careful monitoring, increased commerce and travel will result in continued introducion of invasive microbial agents of plant and animal diseases.

--U. D. Nguyen and M. Blackwell

Infected leaf of flowering dogwoods.  USDA Forest Service

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Last modified 26 April 2004

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