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Citrus sooty blotch (316) Print Fact Sheet

Common Name

Citrus sooty blotch, black mould, black mildew

Scientific Name

Meliola citricola


Widespread. South, East and Southeast Asia, Oceania. It is present in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Solomon Islands.


Citrus species.

Symptoms & Life Cycle

Sooty blotch is caused by a fungus that infects leaves and fruit. It is unlikely that it affects yield, although, if infection is severe it may block sunlight, reducing photosynthesis, and, in turn, that could lower fruit production.

On the leaves, the fungus colonises both upper and lower surfaces causing black, circular spots, up to 5 mm diameter (Photos 1&2). It infects young leaves and fruit, but growth is slow so that the spots are seen only when leaves and fruit mature (Photo 3). Spores are produced in the black spots, and these are spread by wind during wet or humid weather when there are heavy dews. The fungus does best on densely shaded trees.


Sooty mould is a "cosmetic disease". The spots on the fruit are shallow and there are no rots in the flesh; nevertheless, the spots are unsightly and they reduce the market value of the fruit. 

Detection & Inspection

The spots on the fruit caused by sooty blotch are often mistaken for a sooty mould. There are reports that sooty blotch has been found with Capnodium citri, one of the sooty moulds that grow on citrus (see Fact Sheet no. 051). However, spots caused by sooty moulds depend on honeydew from sap-sucking insects, and that is not the case for spots caused by sooty blotch.



During growth

Control of sooty blotch is achieved by using petroleum-based oil sprays. These can be purchased as commercial products; these sprays are often called "horticultural oil").

AUTHORS Grahame Jackson & Eric McKenzie 
Photos 1&2 (taken by Eric McKenzie), and used in this fact sheet, appeared previously in McKenzie E (2013) Meliola citricola PaDIL -

Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project PC/2010/090: Strengthening integrated crop management research in the Pacific Islands in support of sustainable intensification of high-value crop production, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

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