Anthracnose Fact Sheet


Anthracnose refers to a group of plant diseases caused by various fungi. Each fungus attacks specific species of plants.

Plants Affected

Anthracnose affects numerous species of plants, usually woody ornamentals. Many species of shade trees are affected, but only a few severely, such as ashes, elms and sycamores.

Leaf Symptoms

Symptoms of anthracnose include leaf spots, dead leaf areas, and curled or distorted leaves. Infected leaves drop off the tree. In severe cases, the whole tree may defoliate. Repeated defoliation may kill the tree.

Twig and Trunk Symptoms

Anthracnose may cause shoot and twig dieback, as well as cankers on twigs, branches and trunks. Cankers can girdle trees and kill them.

Lifecycle of Fungi

Anthracnose fungi live through the winter in twigs and branches on the plant, and on dead plant material around the plant. In the spring, fruiting bodies grow and release spores, which are spread by wind and rain to nearby plants.

Prevention and Treatment

Thin plants to allow better air circulation. Remove affected plant parts and debris. Apply a fungicide spray approved for anthracnose on the specified host plant following the manufacturer's directions to prevent or control the disease.


  • Purdue University Extension
  • Illinois State University Extension

Who Can Help

  • Anthracnose
Keywords: anthracnose, anthracnose disease, anthracnose fungi

About this Author

Melody Lee began working as a reporter and copywriter for the "Jasper News" in 2004 and was promoted to editor in 2005. She also edits magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design, is a Florida Master Gardener, and has more than 25 years of gardening experience.