Cherry Leaf Spot

Cherry leaf spot is a fungal disease of sweet, sour, and ornamental cherries. While this leaf disease is rarely a death sentence for trees, it can result in reduced blossoms, weakened trees, and increased risk for winter injury.

Cherry Leaf Spot Fast Facts

  • Symptoms include small, purple-colored leaf spots that are approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter (Figure 1). Over time, spots turn brown and may fall out of leaves, leaving “shot holes” in the centers of spots. Severely infected leaves turn yellow and may drop prematurely (Figure 2), with heavily infected trees becoming mostly defoliated by mid-summer.
  • The cherry leaf spot fungus survives winter in fallen leaf debris.
  • Primary infection occurs in spring during periods of warm (60°F to 70°F), moist conditions. Additional infections may occur in favorable conditions through the growing season.
  • Caused by the fungal pathogen Blumeriella jaapi (formerly, Coccomyces hiemalis).

Figure 1: Small, purple-colored lesions on leaves as a result of cherry leaf spot disease. (Photo: Cheryl Kaiser, UK)

Figure 2: Over time, leaves turn yellow and may drop prematurely. (Photo: Cheryl Kaiser, UK)

Management Options

  • Sanitation is critical for management of cherry leaf spot. Rake and destroy all fallen leaves at the end of the season. Do not compost diseased plant material.
  • Fungicides are not recommended for landscape or backyard trees.
  • Commercial producers should consult the Commercial Fruit Pest Management Guide (ID-232) for fungicide recommendations. Read and follow all label instructions.

Additional Information

  • Cherry Leaf Spot (PPFS-FR-T-06)
  • Backyard Peach & Stone Fruit Disease, Pest, and Cultural Practices Calendar (PPFS-FR-T-22)
  • Commercial Fruit Pest Management Guide (ID-232)
  • University of Kentucky Plant Pathology Extension Publications (Website)


By Kim Leonberger, Plant Pathology Extension Associate, and Nicole Gauthier, Plant Pathology Extension Specialist

Posted in Fruit, Landscape Trees & Shrubs
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