Pacific Pests, Pathogens and Weeds - Online edition

Pacific Pests, Pathogens, Weeds & Pesticides

Cucumber powdery mildew (063)

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  • Worldwide distribution. On cucurbits, cucumber, melon, pumpkin, squash and zucchini. Some legumes and ornamentals are also susceptible to infection. An important disease.
  • White patches of fungus over both side of leaves. The fungus growers over theleaf surfaces, dropping structures ('haustoria') to feed on the leaves. Spores do not need water for germination, but humidity has to be high.
  • Leaves die early, fruits suffers sunburn, ripen early, do not store well, or have poor flavour.
  • Cultural control: tolerant varieties of cucumber, melon, pumpkin and squash; sites with good air circulation; avoid planting near old crops; weed; collect trash and destroy after harvest; crop rotation.
  • Chemical control: for organic production: horticultural oil, potassium bicarbonate, wettable sulphur; for non-organic production: wettable sulphur, chlorothalonil, trialzoles.
Common Name

Cucumber powdery mildew

Scientific Name

Two species have been recorded: Podosphaera xanthii and Golovinomyces cichoracearum; previously Sphaerotheca fuliginea and Erysiphe cichoracearum, respectively. These are the names of the sexual forms of the powdery mildews, but in Pacific island countries only the asexual form has been found, known as Oidium species. Unfortunately, unless the Oidium form is examined miscoscopically soon after collecting identification is difficult.

Even in 1981, the Survey of Agricultural Pests and Diseases1 recognised that samples identified as Sphaerotheca fuliginea were likely confused with Erysiphe cichoracearum. Since then other taxonomic complications have arisen from molecular analyses. Golovinomyces cichoracearum, for instance, is recognised as a 'species complex', i.e., it is more than one species.

In the interim, and while the taxonomy is better understood, it is best to refer to all powdery mildew fungi of cucurbits from Pacific islands as Oidium species.

AUTHORS Helen Tsatsia & Grahame Jackson
1Dingley JM, et al. (1981) Survey of Agricultural Pests and Diseases Technical Report Volume2. South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation, United National Development Programme, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nation. Rome, Italy. 2CABI (2017) Golovinomyces cichoracearum (powdery mildew) Crop Protection Compendium. ( and from CABI (2016) Podosphaera xanthii (powdery mildew of cucurbits) Crop Protection Compendium. (; and from (including Photo 4) McKenzie E (2013) Golovinomyces cucurbitacearum: 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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