Hawthorn: Leaf spot

categories: Hawthorn Hawthorn Diseases Ornamental trees Ornamentals

revision date: 2024-06-05 02:07

Black and brownish spots on Hawthorn leaves set against a dark blue background.
Hawthorn leaf spot
Photo by: R.S. Byther


Leaf spot is a fungal disease which can infect hawthorn, photinia, pear, pyracantha, crabapple, and related species. Initial infections are small reddish-brown to grayish spots on the upper or lower leaf surface. The spots may enlarge and coalesce on very susceptible species. On hawthorn, the spots are followed by yellowing and premature drop of the affected leaves. A “green island” effect can arise when the leaf turns yellow, as the areas around the fungal lesions may remain green. The disease is favored by wet weather and is easily spread from infected tissues by rain and splashing water. It overwinters mainly on fallen infected leaves. Succulent new growth is particularly susceptible to infection.

Management Options

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful plant problem management.

Non-chemical Management

Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

  • Plant resistant species such as Crataegus crus-galli (cockspur thorn) and C. phaenopyrum (Washington thorn).
  • Avoid overhead watering.
  • Space plants and prune to reduce humidity and improve air circulation.
  • Pick and destroy infected leaves.
  • Collect and destroy leaf debris beneath infected plants.
  • Use only moderate amounts of nitrogen to reduce amount of succulent new growth. It may help to switch to a slow-release or low-nitrogen fertilizer.

Chemical Management

IMPORTANT: Visit Home and Garden Fact Sheets for more information on using pesticides.

  • Begin applications at bud break and repeat at 7 to 14 day intervals (14-day intervals ONLY for Spectracide IMMUNOX) until conditions are no longer favorable for disease development.
  • Homeowners should not make foliar applications to trees over 10 ft tall.
  • Consult a commercial pesticide applicator for treatment of trees and shrubs over 10 ft. tall.

Approved Pesticides

Listed below are examples of pesticides that are legal in Washington. Always read and follow all label directions.

Additional Images