In June 2003, landscape and potted nursery plants of laurustinus (Viburnum tinus) in Monterey County, California, were found to be infected with a powdery mildew. White, ectophytic mycelial and conidial growth were present primarily on adaxial leaf sides with only sparse growth on abaxial surfaces. Severely infected leaves were buckled and slightly twisted. Affected leaf tissue exhibited slight purple-to-brown discoloration. Appressoria were opposite and lobed. Conidia were produced singly, cylindrical in shape, and measured 31 to 42 × 14 to 19 μm. No fibrosin bodies were observed in the conidia, and the conidia germinated at the ends. Ascomata were not observed. The fungus was identified as Erysiphe (section Microsphaera) viburni Duby (= Microsphaera sparsa Howe = Microsphaera penicillata [M. sparsa is not completely synonymous with M. penicillata because M. sparsa is defined as only those mildews that attack viburnum, whereas M. penicillata was defined as attacking dogwood, alder, etc.]) (1,2). Pathogenicity was demonstrated by gently pressing infected leaves with abundant sporulation onto recently expanded leaves of four, large, potted laurustinus in standard 5-gallon nursery containers (19 liters). Twelve leaves per plant were inoculated. The plants were incubated in a greenhouse (23 to 25°C). After 9 to 10 days, powdery mildew colonies developed on approximately 50% of the inoculated leaves. Such colonies were morphologically similar to the original fungus. Uninoculated control plants did not develop powdery mildew. Using the same technique, inoculating fully mature leaves of the same plants did not result in disease. To our knowledge, this is the first report of Erysiphe viburni infecting V. tinus in California. At some landscaped areas the powdery mildew was extremely severe, causing plants to take on a whitish appearance and resulting in all new foliage being misshapen. E. viburni has also been reported to infect V. japonicum in California.
References: (1) U. Braun. The Powdery Mildews (Erysiphales) of Europe. Gustave Fischer. New York, 1995. (2) U. Braun and S. Takamatsu. Schlechtendalia 4:1, 2000.