What is true Black Tip Fungus?
Many people see black on the tip of their Plumerias and immediately say “I’ve got Black Tip Fungus!”
Yes, you do have a black tip but it probably is not Black Tip Fungus. Most likely, it is a tip that was frozen over winter or rotted in Spring and turned black.
Luc Vannoorbeeck of Florida Colors graciously gave me these images to create our club Plumeria presentation when I asked him about common problems we might encounter growing Plumerias. These photos show true Black Tip Fungus and Luc told me exactly how Black Tip Fungus works.
Black Tip Fungus is a result of ants gathering aphids and other small insects and storing them in a small hole they create in the tip of Plumerias. The ants like the sugary excretion of the aphids and gather them for food. The ants create a small hole in the tip of your Plumeria and use it to store their “food” for later. The result is the tip of the Plumeria is compromised and fungus grows. As a result, the tip dies off and turns black and crusty.
1. The left image above shows a full view of Black Tip Fungus. It looks crusty – not mushy from freezing.
2. The middle image shows a close up of the Plumeria tip with Black Tip Fungus. If you look closely where I circled, there is a hole in the tip and peeking out is an ant. He has made a hole to store his “food”. The ant has destroyed the tip by invading it (increase viewing % on your browser to see close up of ant). The tip will no longer grow.
3. The right image shows an excised tip looking clean and readyfor new side growth from leaf nodes below. Making sure you remove the entire affected tip is crucial to saving your Plumeria and getting new growth.
Is there a cure for Black Tip Fungus?
The answer is Yes. The tip of the Plumeria can be excised and all affected parts need to be removed. Once this is done, the Plumeria will heal up. New growth will appear at the leaf nodes below and your Plumeria should grow again. If the fungus and ants are not removed, the Plumeria will die.
Most black tips on Plumerias are not Black Tip Fungus. To know for sure, look for a tiny hole at the tip of the Plumeria. The tip will also be crusty and sticky from the sugary excretions. Plumerias attract ants so inspection of the tip should be done periodically.
Happy growing … Michele 🙂