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Premature Fruit Drop in Saw Palmettos Caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides

February 2001 , Volume 85 , Number  2
Pages  122 - 125

M. E. Carrington , Range Science Department , P. D. Roberts , N. V. R. R. Urs , Plant Pathology Department, Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC), University of Florida, 2686 SR 29 N, Immokalee, FL 34142 ; R. J. McGovern , T. E. Seijo , Plant Pathology Department, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, University of Florida, 5007 60 St E, Bradenton, FL, 34203 ; and J. J. Mullahey , Range Science Department, SWFREC, University of Florida

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Accepted for publication 23 October 2000.

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a palm species that grows naturally in the southeastern coastal plain of the United States and is most abundant in Florida. Extracts from saw palmetto fruit are sold worldwide in pharmaceutical and dietary supplements in a market valued at $2 billion per year. Lesions on blossoms and fruit and premature fruit drop were first observed in 1996. In 1997, premature fruit drop resulted in 100% loss of fruit in saw palmetto in central and south Florida. In 1998, fruit loss was 8 to 59%. A fungus was consistently isolated from diseased saw palmetto spadices and fruit and identified as Colletotrichum gloeosporioides based on morphological, immunological, and genetic characteristics. Inoculation of spadices of container-produced saw palmettos with C. gloeosporioides resulted in similar disease symptoms and subsequent reisolation of the causal agent. The cross-infection potential of isolates was demonstrated by infection of other hosts. This is the first report of C. gloeosporioides causing disease on saw palmetto.

Additional keywords: medicinal plant extracts, Serenoa repens

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society