University of Maryland Extension

Spot Anthracnose of Dogwood or Elsinoë Leaf spot

small dark spots on dogwood leaves

The fungus Elsinoë corni causes a spot anthracnose primarily on Cornus florida. This disease should not be mistaken for another more serious dogwood disease called dogwood anthracnose caused by the fungus Discula destructiva.  The disease can infect flower bracts, leaves green stems, and fruit.  The fungal lesions are about 1/8 of an inch across with a tan center surrounded by a reddish-purple border. These spots can be numerous and often fall out producing a ragged leaf appearance. The fungus overwinters on twigs and infections begin as new growth emerges in the spring.


Since disease severity is sporadic depending on how wet the spring season is routine fungicide applications are not recommended and fungicides applied after symptom development will not cure visible symptoms. Check for registered fungicides that are available to homeowners at garden outlets. Cultivars that have shown resistance include Cherokee Princess, First Lady, Fragrant Cloud, Purple Glory, Springtime, and Plena.

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