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Grapefruit Tree Diseases

By Melody Lee ; Updated September 21, 2017
Grapefruit trees are susceptible to many diseases.
grapefruit for sale image by David Levinson from Fotolia.com

A ubiquitous part of breakfast, the grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) possesses a bitter to bittersweet flavor. The sweetest fruit is produced in climates with hot days and warm or hot nights. Grapefruits are evergreen and have short supple thorns. More than 30 viruses or virus-like diseases affect citrus trees, however, including grapefruit trees.

Citrus Tristeza Virus

Citrus Tristeza virus is one of the most damaging diseases that affects grapefruit trees. Symptoms include yellow foliage, cupped leaves, loss of tissue between leaf veins, pitted stems and smaller fruits. If the rootstock becomes infected, the tree will decline and eventually die.


Also known as scaly bark, Psorosis is a virus or virus-like disease that occurs mainly in grapefruit trees. Patches of scaly or peeling bark appear on the branches and twigs of affected trees. As the patches get bigger, the tree suffers stress and becomes less productive.

Sooty Canker

The fungus Hendersonula toruloidea causes sooty canker or limb wilt on grapefruit trees. The fungus enters the tree through an injured area and grows under the bark. The sooty black spores under the bark grow into the sapwood of the tree, causing the foliage to wilt, turn brown and die. Infected branches will die back to the cankered areas.

Rio Grande Gummosis

Rio Grande gummosis is another fungus that attacks injured grapefruit trees. Narrow cracks appear in the bark of affected limbs or trunks. Yellow water-soluble gum oozes from the cracks and forms gum pockets under the bark. The exposed sapwood decays and dies. Rio Grande gummosis can also infect the heartwood of a tree.


About the Author


Melody Lee holds a degree in landscape design, is a Florida Master Gardener, and has more than 30 years of gardening experience. She currently works as a writer and copy editor. Her previous jobs include reporter, photographer and editor for a weekly newspaper.