Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

European Palm Tree Diseases

By Devin Dupre-Neary ; Updated September 21, 2017
European palms are generally disease-resistant.

The European palm, also called the Mediterranean palm or fan palm, is the only palm species native to Europe. The short and curved trunks of this palm bear gray-green fan-shaped leaves in a clusters, making it a favorite among landscaping professionals. The tree grows at the rate of six inches per year. It is generally known to be free from any serious attack by diseases or pests, but there are a few diseases to which it may fall victim.

Leaf Spots

Leaf spotting is caused by fungus that is not very dangerous to the tree. Spots may be circular, elongated, brown or oily. To help prevent fungus growth, the palm foliage should not be allowed to get wet while watering. Use of fungicide is not required in mild cases, but if the attack is severe, mild copper fungicides may be used.

False Smuts

False smut, also called Graphiola leaf spot, is caused by the fungus Graphiola phoenicis. The disease is more prevalent in high humidity areas. False smut is characterized by the appearance of small, black, wart-like spots on the surface of the leaves. It can be avoided by spacing trees by five to six feet apart. This encourages good air flow; watering on the foliage should be avoided. Removing the damaged fronds also helps. Mild copper fungicide can be used if necessary.

Ganoderma Root and Butt Rot

Butt rot is caused by the fungus Ganoderma zonatu and is characterized by withering and drooping of leaves. The trunk may collapse or the head may fall. At times, the roots may decay. New growth is pale and stunted. The trunk is infected internally without showing any external signs of infection. Ultimately, the tree may die in three or four years. The affected portion has to be detected and removed as early as possible. In case of a death of a tree due to this disease, a new tree should not be planted in the same spot because the fungus remains in the soil. There are no fungicides available for this disease.

Bud Rot

Bud rot is caused by various fungal and bacterial pathogens. It largely appears after heavy rains or storms. Bacterial bud rot usually occurs due to the damage to the bud in cold climates. Symptoms include rot of the bud, wilting of the young leaves and black lesions on the young fronds and buds. The older leaves also die, leaving the trunk as it is. Watering the leaves should be avoided. Copper fungicides can be used if necessary. The affected parts and the dead trees should be removed immediately to avoid the spread of the disease.


About the Author


Based in Northern California, Devin Dupre-Neary has a bachelor's degree in nursing from UC Davis. Rather than move towards a master's or work in a hospital, he chose a different route. In 2009, he wrote professionally, part-time, writing articles on a host of subjects from health issues to gardening.