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Species Page

rose wilt

Rose wilt disease
This information is part of a full datasheet available in the Crop Protection Compendium (CPC). Find out more information on how to access the CPC.
©CAB International. Published under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence.


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Host plants / species affected

Main hosts

show all species affected
Rosa spp.

List of symptoms / signs

Leaves - abnormal forms
Leaves - abnormal leaf fall
Stems - dieback
Stems - wilt
Stems - witches broom
Whole plant - plant dead; dieback


Various disorders of the rose, with dieback as a common feature, have been described as rose wilt or similar to rose wilt. Fry and Hammett (1971) and Thomas (1981) have described in detail symptoms originally ascribed to rose wilt. In New Zealand, Fry and Hammett (1971) noted that variety, climate, husbandry and plant age influenced symptoms. On nursery plants in spring, diseased scion shoots were stunted, often broad at the base, tapering rapidly and frequently dying from the tip. Leaves were down-curled, brittle and easily shed. Basal buds could proliferate, producing several shoots with small recurved leaves ("balling"), and severely affected plants might die within a few months. On established plants, the main symptoms were general debility, extensive dieback, loss of apical dominance, proliferation of stunted axillary shoots, leaf epinasty and necrosis of shoots from the tip downward. Rose stunt and rose dieback described in the UK (Thomas, 1981) were characterized by similar symptoms, as was rose leaf curl, reported on mature garden roses in the USA (Slack et al., 1976). The symptoms of a disease described in Bulgaria as rose wilt suggested a phytoplasma etiology (Khristova, 1974). A sporadic dieback of unknown origin, recalling rose wilt but without shoot tip necrosis or shoot proliferation, is present on some cultivars grown for cut flower production in Italy (Lisa, 1988). From most reports it appears that slightly affected plants recover and grow normally in subsequent years.

Symptoms of rose wilt were experimentally reproduced in rose by grafting infected buds on healthy plants by a double-budding technique (Fry and Hammett, 1971; Slack et al., 1976; Thomas, 1981).

Attempts to isolate or identify pathogens in plants affected by rose wilt or similar diseases have so far been negative (Fry and Hammett, 1971; Slack et al., 1976, Thomas, 1981; Lisa, 1998).

Prevention and control

Eliminate suspected plants.


Economic impact is very low. Apart from the unidentified disorder sporadically observed in Italy, no outbreak of the disease has been reported in the last twenty years.