Asked July 28, 2015, 8:57 AM EDT

New message: I am attaching photos of the blight. I would like to know re long-term life. Will this destroy the plant (as I am thinking about cutting it down). Wish to know alternatives before that. Thank you,

(Earlier message and your response) I have a six-year-old viburnum; 10 ft tall; 14 ft wide. Produces an abundance of flowers but not many fruit due to almost total loss of honey bees in my area (Baltimore City 21218). Last week, suddenly, overnight, so many leaves dropped, the yard looks like green snow. It is still pushing out new growth at the tips but new stems from the ground have the same appearance as the dropped leaves -- mottled green shades with gray spots; appears to be on top surface of leaves. I checked my neighbors' maple, cherry, and dogwood and they are untouched. So, do you have any info to offer. Has anyone else experienced something like this? I am puzzled and troubled that I may lose it after increasingly vigorous growth each year since planting. Thank you.

Baltimore Maryland shrub viburnum

1 Response

We can't say for sure from your description what is afflicting your viburnum. Those are unusual symptoms. Could be botryosphaeria, a disease which is associated with overly wet soil conditions. Soils can become too wet for plant roots when soil grade changes, down spouts shift, or simply drenching rains that don't drain well. Look at some images on Google. There is no cure. If you can improve the soil condition, the plant may be able to improve and grow acceptably for years.

Diseases that affect other plant species rarely would affect viburnums.

If botryosphaeria does not seem to be the problem, we'd recommend that you send us some photos of the symptoms so that our plant pathologist and entomologist can look at them.


Baltimore Maryland

3 Responses

This looks like a fungal leaf spot disease.
The leaves are unusual for a viburnum species. What species of viburnum is it? What do the flowers and fruit look like? ( Is it possible it is another species? The leaf looks very similar to a cherry leaf.)

Our plant pathologist will be back in the office on Friday and it will be helpful for him to have this information when he sees the photos.


It's a blackhaw viburnum. It gets tons of white flower clusters and a few blue-black berries that are edible by humans. I got it for the birds though it does not produce many berries due to the pollination problem tied to loss of honey bees.

I have been thinking about your original response and must add that I planted this viburnum on the advice of the nurseryman who cut down my avalanche plum, its predecessor in this spot. The plum grew into my main sewer drain and I had to have the yard dug up and the tree removed in order to get the drain in. The digging turned up a lot of clay (I mean a lot) that was laid over the pre-existing top soil. I had to rebuilt the soil in the garden from scratch. However, the spot where I planted the viburnum still has a lot of clay in it and I wonder if that feeds into the original response re water and roots. Thank you. All this information is useful.

At this point we would like to see additional photos of the whole plant, around the base, and affected foliage.