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First Report of Botrytis Blight, Caused by Botrytis cinerea, on Hibiscus in South Africa

L. Swart
and P. Langenhoven, Agricultural Research Council, Private Bag X1, Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa

Posted 10 June 2000. Plant Health Progress doi:10.1094/PHP-2000-0610-01-HN.

Reproduced, with permission, from Plant Disease, April 2000.

Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) is an annual herb grown in China, Thailand, Mexico, and Africa. Different plant parts are used for cold and hot beverages, food ingredients, edible oil, and medicinal properties. In May 1999, a disease was observed in a commercial field of 6-month-old H. sabdariffa plants in Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Stems of diseased plants had brown, sunken lesions covered with green-gray spore masses. Infected stems collapsed. Lesions initiated on stems expanded rapidly under cool, humid conditions. In some cases, lesions developed on the flower stalk and expanded to the calyx, causing death of the calyx. Leaves had no lesions or sporulation, but as stem blight progressed, leaves wilted and fell off. Botrytis cinerea Pers.:Fr. (1) was consistently isolated from affected stem and flower stalk tissues. The pathogen produced profuse conidia and mycelia on the surface of dead and infected stems and calyxes, which resulted in a moldy gray appearance. The average size of conidia produced on naturally infected stems ranged from 5.5 to 8.0 6.0 to 13.0 m (average 6.5 9.2 m). On potato dextrose agar (1-month-old culture), conidia ranged from 5.0 to 9.5 6.5 to 12.5 m (average 7.3 8.7 m) based on 50 spore measurements. Microsclerotia were round or irregular and ranged from 1.2 to 3.0 1.0 to 2.5 mm (average 2.1 2.0 mm). Koch's postulates were confirmed by spraying potted, 6-month-old H. sabdariffa plants with a spore suspension (1 10(^5) conidia per ml). Inoculated plants were enclosed in transparent plastic bags for 7 days at 15 and 20C (night and day) in a glasshouse. Typical symptoms developed on stems and calyxes within 7 days after inoculation. B. cinerea was reisolated from affected tissues. Botrytis gray mold blight has been recorded on H. rosa-sinensis L. and Hibiscus sp. in Florida (2), but this is the first report of Botrytis blight on Hibiscus spp. in South Africa. Because the disease can result in plant death, Botrytis blight may have a significant impact on the establishment and yield of this crop in the field, especially under cool, wet growing conditions.


1.  M. B. Ellis. 1971. Dematiaceous Hyphomycetes. CAB, Kew, Surrey, England.

2.  D. F. Farr et al. 1989. Fungi on Plants and Plant Products in the United States. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN.