The braided money tree, or Pachira aquatica, is a South American native that can reach heights up to 30 feet. This rapidly growing tree thrives in moist areas, heals rapidly and can withstand short drought periods. The characteristics of the money tree make it an excellent selection for bonsai, and it is often braided for a more striking appearance. Though the tree is a vigorous grower, the braided money tree is susceptible to several diseases.
Anthracnose Leaf Spot
Anthracnose leaf spot is a general title for the various fungal diseases that cause leaf spots and other foliage damage to plants and trees. The money tree is susceptible to this fungal disease, and generally shows signs of infection in the early spring months. Infected money trees develop small discolored spots that are accompanied by fungal fruiting bodies. The progression of the disease causes the spots to enlarge, forming large foliage blotches. The infected foliage dies and defoliates. Anthracnose lies dormant on dead and dying foliage and defoliated debris. The disease can be prevented by keeping the braided money tree’s area free of debris, watering the tree thoroughly and infrequently, and keeping its foliage dry. Fungicidal sprays are effective in controlling the disease.
Powdery mildew is a common disease among braided money trees. The disease develops on defoliated debris that remains around the tree. The fungal spores commute from the debris onto the foliage of the money tree and causes infection. The infected foliage develops small white spots which coalesce into a powdery white coating of fungus across the leaf’s surface. Braided money trees also experience leaf curl, wilting and withering when severe infections occur. Newly developing cases of powdery mildew can be cured by wiping the leaves of the money tree with a fungicidal soap mix with warm water. Keep braided money trees free of clutter and debris, and prune away severely infected areas.
Unlike many plant diseases, oedema occurs as a result of poor lighting and excess moisture, and does not involve infection from fungus or bacteria. This physiological condition affects the overall condition of the entire plant. Symptoms of oedema include yellowing or browning foliage, drooping, wilting and defoliation. The money tree will also develop corky spots on its foliage. The effects of oedema can be reversed with a change in environment. The money tree must be repotted to provide an environment that is not waterlogged, and infected foliage must also be pruned from the tree. Place newly repotted and pruned trees in a warm, sunny location.