Lupinus havardii Wats., commonly known as Big Bend or Chisos bluebonnet, is a showy winter annual that can reach 1.0 to 1.5 m in height and produces blue, fragrant inflorescence (racemes). L. havardii is native to a narrow geographic range along the Mexican border in southwest Texas. The inflorescence of L. havardii has considerable potential in the cut flower industry where there is a need for high-quality, durable flowers with a blue color (1). Several crops have been produced in the greenhouse to determine production and post-harvest characteristics of the cut inflorescence. Under greenhouse growing conditions during March through June 1999, numerous plants of L. havardii cv. Texas Sapphire grown in raised beds and in containers in both Dallas and El Paso, TX, were observed with blighted flower racemes with light brown to gray lesions ranging from 1 to 5 cm in length. The racemes were attacked at varying ages and eventually assumed a hooked appearance where the terminal 15 cm of the raceme was bent downward. Isolations from symptomatic lesions removed from L. havardii flower stalks consistently yielded cultures of an Alternaria sp. on potato-dextrose agar. Typical conidia measured 27 μm length and 11 μm width with 3 to 5 transverse septa. The fungus was identified as A. alternata (Fries) Keissler consistent with the description in Ellis (2). Pathogenicity tests were conducted in the laboratory by inoculating cut inflorescences with agar disks containing the fungus. Inoculations produced light brown lesions on the racemes that were typical of disease symptoms observed on greenhouse crops. In addition to the blue-flowered Texas Sapphire cultivar, we also observed the disease symptoms on pink and white flowered breeding lines of L. havardii. This disease is important as a flower stem blighting pathogen and could severely restrict production of cut flowers during the growing season. This is the first report of Alternaria sp. attacking L. havardii.
References: (1) T. D. Davis. HortScience 29:1110, 1994. (2) M. B. Ellis. 1971. Dematiaceous Hyphomycetes. Commonwealth Mycological Institute Kew, England.