‘Devastating Disease’ Boxwood Blight Found in Christmas Wreaths
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says Boxwood blight, a serious fungal disease that attacks boxwood, has been detected in Michigan for the first time.
Boxwood is a popular landscape shrub.
The disease was found in Oakland County at three separate locations: a landscape firm, a homeowner’s yard and in holiday wreaths being sold at a retail store. The infected boxwood may have been also been sold at other retail locations in Michigan.
MDARD says that anyone who has a wreath containing boxwood plant parts should consider it infected and dispose of it by burning or double-bagging it and including it in the trash for a landfill. Double-bagging with landfill disposal are preferred over burning.
Boxwood blight produces dark brown leaf spots and causes rapid defoliation that sometimes kills young boxwoods.
Gina Alessandri, director of MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division said, "Boxwood blight is a devastating disease that has caused significant losses to homeowners and the nursery industry in states that already have the disease."
Boxwood blight first appeared in the 1990s in the United Kingdom and is now widely distributed in Europe. In the United States, the disease was first found in 2011 in Connecticut, North Carolina and Virginia and has since spread to more than 24 states.
Boxwood blight affects all species of boxwood; however, some species and cultivars are more susceptible than others. American boxwood and English boxwood are highly susceptible. This disease also affects the related shrub, sweetbox, and Pachysandra, a common ground cover. Boxwood and Pachysandra are commonly used in commercial and residential plantings throughout Michigan.
Anyone who suspects that they have plants infected with boxwood blight should contact their local MSU Extension office.
The photos below are examples of Boxwood blight.