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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

black rot of pineapple (Ceratocystis paradoxa)

Host plants / species affected
Ananas comosus (pineapple)
Areca catechu (betelnut palm)
Borassus flabellifer (toddy palm)
Butia capitata
Cocos nucifera (coconut)
Coffea (coffee)
Daucus carota (carrot)
Dypsis decaryi
Elaeis guineensis (African oil palm)
Howea forsteriana (paradise palm)
Mangifera indica (mango)
Musa x paradisiaca (plantain)
Phoenix dactylifera (date-palm)
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)
Solanum muricatum (melon pear)
Theobroma cacao (cocoa)
Zea mays (maize)
List of symptoms/signs
Fruit  -  lesions: black or brown
Fruit  -  premature drop
Leaves  -  abnormal colours
Leaves  -  abnormal forms
Leaves  -  necrotic areas
Leaves  -  yellowed or dead
Roots  -  soft rot of cortex
Seeds  -  discolorations
Seeds  -  rot
Stems  -  dieback
Stems  -  internal discoloration
Whole plant  -  dwarfing
Whole plant  -  unusual odour

Typical disease symptoms are detected in setts 2-3 weeks after planting. The pathogen enters mainly through cut ends and proliferates rapidly in parenchymatous tissues of the internode. The affected tissues first develop a reddish colour which turns to brownish-black in the later stages. Fibrovascular bundles in canes are not attacked by the pathogen. Cavities are formed inside the severely affected internodes and the fungus sporulates luxuriantly in them. The presence of C. paradoxa in sugarcane setts prevents their rooting (Byther and Moore, 1974). In about 80% of cases, setts decay before the bud sprouts or the shoot attains a height of 6-12 cm (Went, 1896; Bell, 1936; McMartin, 1937). It has been observed that if the shoot develops roots before it is attacked, the plant survives although the growth is drastically impaired. Studies on toxin production revealed that there was no toxins in culture filtrate but volatiles from the fungus stimulated the production of ethyl acetate in the host tissue, which may, in part, account for disease symptoms. A volatile compound produced by the pathogen stimulates the plant to produce ethylene which inhibits rooting. This inhibition may be a factor in reducing the germination and vigour of seed cane/setts infected with C. paradoxa (Patil and Jadhav, 1995).

Occasionally, the pathogen causes considerable damage in standing crops (Padmanabhan and Jaleel Ahmed, 1970; Manzo, 1975; Natrajan and Subba Raja, 1976), especially when they have rot or borer damage, or some similar injury. Drought also accelerates damage. In such cases the pathogen spreads rapidly throughout the cane, the foliage turns yellow, and ultimately the plant withers away. The pathogen attacks standing canes in the field causing secondary infection. Such infection usually occurs after red rot disease, caused by Glomerella tucumanensis. C. paradoxa rarely infects wilt-affected canes. In standing canes, the pathogen causes blackening of the internal tissues to several internodes from the base.

The odour is conspicuous only in the initial stages of the rotting of setts and is of little diagnostic value when the setts are badly damaged.


The fungus produces characteristic symptoms such as root rot, bleeding stem, bitten leaf or leaf rot, nut fall and kaincope (Deutschmann, 1963; Nambiar et al., 1986). C. paradoxa causes fruit rot of coconut in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Camargo and Fernandes, 1997). C. paradoxa, along with other pathogens, is associated with leaf rot disease in Kerala, India. A formula for indexing the severity of stem bleeding has been developed (Anon., 1996). Ramanujam et al (1998) screened coconut cultivars resistance to stem bleeding using a detached petiole inoculation method. Coconut cultivars differed in their susceptibility to the disease.


On pineapples, C. paradoxa causes leaf spot, stalk rot, base rot, soft rot or water blisters, and fruit rot. The fungus was ascertained to enter the fruit through wounds and the crevices between individual fruits (Bakra, 1930; Bratley and Mason, 1939; Chaudhari, 1948).

Phoenix canariensis

Thielaviopsis paradoxa [C. paradoxa] was the causal agent of a wilt of young Phoenix canariensis, which showed complete rotting of the terminal bud and bases of the rachides of the adjacent leaves (Barthelet and Vinot, 1944).

Ornamental palms (Roystonea sp.)

Hernandez et al. (1999) reported the association of C. paradoxa, along with Phytophthora spp., with palm disease in the container-grown palms along. Soil water imbalances, severe soil compaction and incorrect relative humidity, light and temperature for growing palms in the greenhouse influenced the build up of the disease.

Date palms

C. paradoxa has been shown to produce symptoms such as black scorch, median, foot or head rot, heart rot and crown decay in date palms (Koltz and Fawcett, 1932; Chabrolin, 1932; Streets, 1933). Al Rokibah et al. (1998) isolated C. paradoxa from rotted roots and leaf rachis of date palm affected with black scorch disease. They found that increased water salinity (12.9 ds/m) reduced the growth of date seedlings. Increasing the salinity levels in tap water from 1.4 to 26.5 ds/m used for irrigation increased the infection rate of the C. paradoxa-inoculated seedlings. They concluded that fluctuations in water salinity levels along with varietal resistances contribute to the sporadic occurrence of C. paradoxa in the field.


In bananas, black end and finger-tip rot symptoms are produced by C. paradoxa (Hoette, 1935; Hansford, 1941).

Oil palms

Mallamaire (1936) reported that basal rot symptoms were produced in oil palms.
Prevention and control

Control of C. paradoxa is usually necessary to prevent crop losses.

Heat Treatment

Berg (1926) showed that 30 minutes' immersion of sugarcane setts in water at 51°C prevented the spread of C. paradoxa and fungal development where planting was delayed.

Cultural Control

A general recommendation is to use healthy setts of an appropriate physiological age to ensure rapid germination, setts with at least three nodes to increase the likelihood that the buds towards the centre will germinate before the fungus invades all the tissues, and crop management practices that promote germination and rooting. Preferably, varieties which are quick to germinate should be selected and planted in disease-prone areas. Varieties which are slow to germinate should either be treated in hot water (50°C for 2 hours) or treated with a growth hormone (e.g. indole acetic acid) to promote early germination which is a prerequisite for escaping infection. The damage can be further reduced by avoiding extremely wet or dry soil conditions (Agnihotri, 1990; Wismer and Bailey, 1989). Kalaimani et al. (1996) reported that the application of farmyard manure at the rate of 25t/ha per week in plots before planting sugarcane reduced the incidence of C. paradoxa and improved yields. Polyethylene coating of short hot-water treated setts significantly improved control of the disease in pineapple, especially if the setts were also treated with fungicide (Croft and Hogarth, 1998).

Chemical Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de-)registration of pesticides, we are for the moment not including any specific chemical control recommendations. For further information, we recommend you visit the following resources:

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated management practices have produced positive results in managing stem bleeding disease of coconut. The disease was controlled effectively by a soil application of tridemorph. The application of coal tar and Bordeaux paste along with organic manuring and scraping out infected tissue also provided control of the disease, as did cutting out the diseased portion of the trunk and applying hot coal tar. Root feeding affected palms with fertilizer and neem cake plus the application of carbendazim and tridemorph three times yearly controlled the disease and increased yields (Ramhan et al., 1989; Radhakrishnan, 1990; Rao et al., 1992). Ramanujam et al. (1997) suggested the following IPM approach. The application of tridemorph (root feeding and wound healing) along with coal tar sealing and a soil application of Gliocladium virens + neem cake + farmyard manure produced the lowest disease index and highest nut yield.

The pathogen attacks setts in the soil and causes considerable damage, especially when conditions for germination and subsequent growth are not favourable. As a result, gaps appear in the fields which necessitate replanting involving extra expenditure. Occasionally, under adverse conditions, the pathogen also attacks the standing stalks, causing heavy damage. Padmanabhan and Jaleel Ahmed (1970) estimated the losses in juice quality (as a percentage of commercial cane sugar) in resistant, moderately resistant and susceptible varieties after inoculation with C. paradoxa. Some reduction in the percentage of commercial cane sugar occurred when the canes were merely punctured, but this increased appreciably in inoculated canes. The mean incidence of sett rot disease in different regions of Maharashtra, India, during 1991-1994 was 4.01%. The level of sucrose and glucose decreased drastically in diseased setts (Patil and Jadhav, 1995). In peninsular India, canes are planted from October onwards. Planting early in the season coincides with the active monsoon periods and this favours water stagnation resulting in the build up of disease in germinating/germinated setts and leading to germination failure.

Manzo (1975), working in Nigeria, reported that juice from infected canes created processing problems in small sugar mills and the sugar did not crystallize properly, possibly because of the reduced sugar content of the juice and the presence of other products of the host-parasite interaction.


Wet rot or water blister disease caused by C. paradoxa annually causes a loss of about 10% plus costs incurred while transporting diseased fruit (SN Chattannavar, 1996, University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, India, personal communication).
Related treatment support
External factsheets
Pestnet Factsheets, Pestnet, English language
UF/IFAS Factsheets, University of Florida, 2015, English language
UF/IFAS Factsheets, University of Florida, 2015, English language
Pestnet Factsheets, Pestnet, English language
Sistemas de Produção Embrapa - Publicações eletrônicas, Embrapa, 1995, Portuguese language
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