Dothistroma needle blight: declared pest

Page last updated: Thursday, 25 June 2020 - 10:33am

Dothistroma needle blight (Dothistroma septosporum) causes needle loss, slow growth and sometimes death in many types of pine and some related conifers. This disease is not known to occur in Western Australia. Early detection and reporting of Dothistroma needle blight will help protect the Western Australian forest industry.

What plants are affected?

Dothistroma needle blight can cause disease in at least 82 species of pines, as well as some types of spruce, cedar, fir, larch and Douglas fir.

Very susceptible pines include radiata pine (Pinus radiata), ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), Scott’s pine (Pinus sylvestris), maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii).

What do I look for? 

  • Reddish-brown spots and bands appear on the needles.
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    Older needles die and drop off, leaving a "lions tail". Photo: Andrej Kunca, National Forest Centre - Slovakia, Bugwood.org
  • The disease eventually girdles the pine needle.  The needle beyond the diseased band then dies and turns brown, while the bottom part of the needle stays green.
  • Infected needles eventually turn completely brown and drop from the tree.
  • When older needles are lost tufts of needles at the ends of branches gives a “lions tail” appearance.
  • Disease symptoms begin at the base of the tree then gradually move upwards.

How does the disease survive and spread? 

  • Tiny black fungal fruiting bodies appear in infected needles.  
  • Thousands of spores are produced when the weather is cool and wet.
  • Spores spread from plant to plant by splashing of rain drops and wind.

What damage can this pest cause? 

Dothistroma needle blight reduces the productivity of pine plantations and makes pines planted in gardens unhealthy and unsightly.

Status in Western Australia

Dothistroma septosporum (Dorog.) M. Morelet (1968) is absent from Western Australia and is a quarantine pest.

It is a prohibited organism under section 12 of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007.

Western Australia's Pest Freedom for Dothistroma needle blight is supported by general and specific surveillance, and specific import requirements to prevent its entry. A person who finds or suspects the presence of Dothistroma needle blight must report it to DPIRD.

Report suspect disease

Early detection and eradication will help protect the Western Australian forestry industry. Please make a report on MyPestGuide or contact the Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS) to report this pest.

Report your observations using the MyPestGuide Reporter app or online at mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au.

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080