New Disease Reports (2002) 4, 19.

First report of white mould (Ramularia vallisumbrosae) on daffodils (Narcissus) in eastern England

T.M. O'Neill 1*, G.R. Hanks 2 and R. Kennedy 3


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Accepted: 22 Jan 2002

White mould (Ramularia vallisumbrosae Cav.) is a common and damaging foliar disease on daffodils (Narcissus cultivars) in the south-west of England that in some years causes epidemics in commercial Narcissus crops in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Outside of the South West the disease has previously been identified in Warwickshire (Anon., 1929), on Anglesey (Baker, 1972), and in southern Scotland (Dennis & Foister, 1942). However, there appears to be no previous confirmation of the disease in eastern England (J.B. Briggs, E. Roberts, A Inman pers. comm.) where Narcissus has been grown on a large scale for over 100 years (Dobbs, 1983).

White mould was identified in May 2001 on Narcissus cv. Carlton in Holbeach Marsh, Lincolnshire, in a crop being monitored for foliar diseases at c. 14-day intervals from January. Lesions occurred on leaves and stems and typically were pale brown, oval, c. 10-30 x 5-10 mm in size and contained numerous minute black, sclerotium-like bodies. Microscopic examination revealed amerospores and phragmospores characteristic of R. vallisumbrosae (Moore, 1979). The disease was subsequently confirmed in crops of Narcissus cvs. Spellbinder and Dutch Master on other farms in Lincolnshire (Holbeach Marsh and Kirton). Plant Health inspectors reported similar symptoms affecting various cultivars on several farms in the Spalding, Holbeach and Kirton area in 2000 and 2001 (E. Roberts, pers. comm.), however the pathogen was not confirmed in these cases. In Cornwall, sporulating lesions of white mould are often seen in February before flowering, whereas in these newly reported instances in Lincolnshire, the lesions were seen after flowering, from May onwards.

Although there is commercial interchange of bulbs between south-west and eastern England, the major bulb-growing regions in the UK, the disease is not believed to be bulb-borne (Moore, 1979). In spring, no white mould was observed on plants grown from severely affected Narcissus cv. Carlton bulbs, harvested in July 1999 in Cornwall and grown under humid glasshouse conditions or in a polythene tunnel at Kirton (Lincolnshire) and Mepal (Cambridgeshire), respectively. This report suggests that there may now be an increased risk in eastern England, where c. 60% of UK Narcissus are grown, of outbreaks of this potentially epidemic disease with consequent early foliage die-down and associated reductions in bulb yield.


These observations were made during the course of a project jointly funded under the 'Horticulture LINK' programme (project 188) by DEFRA, the HDC, Aardware Design, Angloflora Ltd., F.H. Bowser Ltd., Lingarden Ltd., Lords Ground Ltd., F. Dring & Sons Ltd., O.A. Taylor & Sons Ltd., R.H. Scrimshaw & Sons, W.J.S. Hosking and Winchester Growers Ltd., and are published with their permission.


  1. Anonymous, 1929. Report on the occurrence of fungus, bacterial and allied diseases of crops in England and Wales 1925, 1926 and 1927. London: HMSO.
  2. Baker JJ, 1972. Report on diseases of cultivated plants in England and Wales for the years 1957 - 1968. London: HMSO: MAFF Technical Bulletin no. 25.
  3. Dennis RWG, Foister CE, 1942. List of diseases of economic plants recorded in Scotland. Transactions British Mycologicial Society 25, 266-306.
  4. Dobbs RC, 1983. Bulbs in Britain - A century of growing. Spalding: Abbey Printers Ltd.
  5. Moore WC, 1979. Diseases of bulbs. London: HMSO: MAFF reference book HPD 1.

This report was formally published in Plant Pathology

©2002 The Authors