Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Chrysomyxa rhododendri
(European Rhododendron rust)



Chrysomyxa rhododendri (European Rhododendron rust)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Chrysomyxa rhododendri
  • Preferred Common Name
  • European Rhododendron rust
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Fungi
  •     Phylum: Basidiomycota
  •       Subphylum: Pucciniomycotina
  •         Class: Pucciniomycetes
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. rhododendri is a heteroecious rust fungus; an obligate parasite completing stages of its life cycle on different plants. Mating of haploid strains occurs on species of Picea, followed by the production...

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report


Top of page
Aecia and spermagonia on needles of Picea abies. Original x7.5.
TitleAecia and spermagonia
CaptionAecia and spermagonia on needles of Picea abies. Original x7.5.
CopyrightUSDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Aecia and spermagonia on needles of Picea abies. Original x7.5.
Aecia and spermagoniaAecia and spermagonia on needles of Picea abies. Original x7.5.USDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Aeciospores, showing longitudinal stripe and end cap (lower left). Original x400.
CaptionAeciospores, showing longitudinal stripe and end cap (lower left). Original x400.
CopyrightUSDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Aeciospores, showing longitudinal stripe and end cap (lower left). Original x400.
AeciosporesAeciospores, showing longitudinal stripe and end cap (lower left). Original x400. USDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Aeciospores. Original x1000. Note scale bar.
CaptionAeciospores. Original x1000. Note scale bar.
CopyrightUSDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Aeciospores. Original x1000. Note scale bar.
AeciosporesAeciospores. Original x1000. Note scale bar.USDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Uredinia on underside of Rhododendron sp. Original x30.
CaptionUredinia on underside of Rhododendron sp. Original x30.
CopyrightUSDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Uredinia on underside of Rhododendron sp. Original x30.
Uredinia Uredinia on underside of Rhododendron sp. Original x30. USDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Urediniospores. Original x400. Note scale bar.
CaptionUrediniospores. Original x400. Note scale bar.
CopyrightUSDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Urediniospores. Original x400. Note scale bar.
UrediniosporesUrediniospores. Original x400. Note scale bar. USDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Urediniospores. Original x1000. Note scale bar.
CaptionUrediniospores. Original x1000. Note scale bar.
CopyrightUSDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Urediniospores. Original x1000. Note scale bar.
UrediniosporesUrediniospores. Original x1000. Note scale bar. USDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Telia on underside of Rhododendron sp. leaf.  Original x20.
CaptionTelia on underside of Rhododendron sp. leaf. Original x20.
CopyrightUSDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory
Telia on underside of Rhododendron sp. leaf.  Original x20.
TeliaTelia on underside of Rhododendron sp. leaf. Original x20.USDA-ARS/Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory


Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Chrysomyxa rhododendri De Bary 1879

Preferred Common Name

  • European Rhododendron rust

Other Scientific Names

  • Chrysomyxa ledi var. rhododendri Savile 1955
  • Melampsoropsis rhododendri Arthur 1906
  • Uredo rhododendri DC. 1815

International Common Names

  • English: needle: spruce rust; rhododendron-spruce needle rust; rust: Azalea spp.
  • Spanish: roya de la azalea; roya vesicular de las aciculas del abeto
  • French: rouille du rhododendron; rouille vesiculaire des aiguilles de l'epicea

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Blasenrost; fichte rost blasen

EPPO code

  • CHMYRH (Chrysomyxa ledi var. rhododendri)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

C. rhododendri is a heteroecious rust fungus; an obligate parasite completing stages of its life cycle on different plants. Mating of haploid strains occurs on species of Picea, followed by the production of asexual aeciospores that infect Rhododendron species. Another asexual form producing urediniospores occurs on Rhododendron, followed by the production of teliospores (the sexual stage). All stages are known from Europe. The fungus was reported in 1954 on Rhododendron in the northwestern USA, but the aecial form has not been found in North America. The fungus is a Regulated Pest for the USA; it has been introduced into the UK, New Zealand and Australia. As an invasive species, this rust is damaging on species of Picea and Rhododendron. As latent infections on Rhododendron can be overlooked, accidental introduction of the rust may occur through the importation of these popular ornamental plants (Savile, 1973).

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Fungi
  •         Phylum: Basidiomycota
  •             Subphylum: Pucciniomycotina
  •                 Class: Pucciniomycetes
  •                     Order: Pucciniales
  •                         Family: Coleosporiaceae
  •                             Genus: Chrysomyxa
  •                                 Species: Chrysomyxa rhododendri

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page

Savile (1950) reduced this species to a variety of Chrysomyxa ledi, basing the name on Uredo rhododendri; however, this was an incorrect placement of an anamorph in a teleomorphic genus. A subsequent publication (Savile, 1955) of the variety with a description of the teleomorph, is an illegitimate later homonym of the 1950 taxon (Crane, 2001). Crane (2001) found morphological differences between C. ledi and C. rhododendri originally described and illustrated by de Bary (1879), to be consistent in existing specimens, and so retained de Bary’s species in an examination of North American Chrysomyxa.


Top of page

C. rhododendri is a heteroecious rust. The aecial stage occurs on needles of Picea species, and the uredinial and telial stages occur on the leaves of Rhododendron species.

Spermogonia: amphigenous, subepidermal, globose, yellow, turning brown.

Aecia: amphigenous (on both sides of needles), cylindrical, 0.3-1.3 mm diameter, single or confluent; peridium white, margin lacerate, peridial cells concave, smooth on outside, internal wall convex, with low irregular warts. Aeciospores in chains, globose, ovoid to ellipsoid, one or both ends flattened, or with a small cap, and indistinct longitudinal stripe, 18-30 x 16-22 µm, pale-orange; wall 2.0-3.5 µm thick, including warts.

Uredinia: hypophyllous (on lower side of leaves), scattered, erumpent, round, orange-red, on previous year’s leaves, petioles and twigs. Peridium inconspicuous. Urediniospores in chains, ellipsoid, ovoid, one or both ends flattened or with a small cap, longitudinal stripe, 18-32(-36) x 14-22 µm, thin-walled; wall with warts included 1.0-3.0 µm.

Telia: hypophyllous, orange-red, in groups or confluent, erumpent, to 1 mm long; teliospores in chains, chains in rows. Spores cuboid to ellipsoid, 20-28 x 12-21 µm, thin-walled, smooth, rounded, densely crowded.

See Crane (2001).


Top of page

C. rhododendri has a circumpolar distribution throughout the northern hemisphere, but is apparently absent from southern Asia, Tibet, and perhaps Japan (Crane, 2001; 2005), although Chen (2002) recorded this species in Tibet. Endemic to alpine and boreal areas of Europe, it was absent from the UK until introductions to Scotland and England occurred early in the twentieth century (Bennell, 1985). In subsequent decades, the rust was accidentally introduced into Australia and New Zealand (Bennell, 1985).

This species was reported to be introduced into the USA in 1954 (Gould et al., 1955), but Crane (2001), after examining specimens from California and Washington, determined that those outbreaks on imported cultivated Rhododendron spp. were most likely due to a native rust species, Chrysomyxa reticulata. Crane (2001) also suggests that the American species, C. reticulata, was introduced at least once into the UK on Rhododendron plants and was mistaken for the European species. C. rhododendri in the uredinial stage is found in northern parts of Canada on the native Rhododendron lapponicum, but because telia have not been observed, there is no apparent danger of infection of spruces [Picea] (Savile, 1950;Ziller, 1974). Although C. rhododendri probably does occur on cultivated species and varieties in North America, Crane (2001) suggests that the identity of rusts found on Rhododendron should be verified carefully.

Crane (2005) and Crane et al. (2005) also found that many specimens from southern Asia and Japan identified as C.rhododendri are various native species, so that it is doubtful whether C.rhododendri occurs in the centre of origin for Rhododendron. Specimens from northeastern Russia and northern China were consistent with the morphology of the European species.

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ChinaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
-BeijingPresentCrane, 2005
-HebeiPresentChen, 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-HeilongjiangPresentCrane, 2005; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-JilinPresentCrane, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-LiaoningPresentChen, 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-QinghaiPresentChen, 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-ShaanxiPresentCao et al., 2000; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-SichuanPresentChen, 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-TibetPresentChen, 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-XinjiangPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
-YunnanPresentChen, 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2012
JapanAbsent, unreliable recordKobayashi, 2007; CABI/EPPO, 2012
Korea, DPRAbsent, unreliable recordBPI, US National Fungus Collections; CABI/EPPO, 2012
Korea, Republic ofPresentCho and Shin, 2004; CABI/EPPO, 2012
MongoliaPresentBraun, 1999; CABI/EPPO, 2012
NepalAbsent, unreliable recordCABI/EPPO, 2012
TaiwanPresentHiratsuka and Chen, 1991; CABI/EPPO, 2012

North America

CanadaPresentNative Not invasive Savile, 1950; Parmelee, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-British ColumbiaPresentNative Not invasive Cummins and Stevenson, 1956; Crane, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-ManitobaPresentNative Not invasive Cummins and Stevenson, 1956; Crane, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentNative Not invasive Cummins and Stevenson, 1956; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-Northwest TerritoriesPresentNative Not invasive Crane, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-OntarioPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
GreenlandPresentNative Not invasive Crane, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gould and Shaw, 1969Probably Chrysomyxa reticulata
-OregonLocalisedIntroduced Invasive Eglitis et al., 1966Probably Chrysomyxa reticulata
-WashingtonLocalisedIntroduced1954 Invasive Gould et al., 1955; Eglitis et al., 1966Probably Chrysomyxa reticulata


AustriaPresentNative Not invasive Tubeuf, 1893; Jaap, 1908; Crane, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
BelgiumPresentNative Not invasive Oudemans, 1905; CABI/EPPO, 2012
Czech RepublicPresentNative Not invasive Safránková, 2008; CABI/EPPO, 2012
FinlandPresentNative Not invasive CABI/EPPO, 2012
FrancePresentNative Not invasive Maire, 1905; Dufrenoy, 1932; CABI/EPPO, 2012
GermanyPresentNative Not invasive Laubert and Trappmann, 1929, April; Braun, 1999; Crane, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
IrelandPresentSpaulding, 1961; CABI/EPPO, 2012
ItalyPresentNative Not invasive Traverso, 1903; Spaulding, 1961; CABI/EPPO, 2012
LuxembourgPresentNative Not invasive Oudemans, 1905; CABI/EPPO, 2012
NetherlandsPresentNative Not invasive Oudemans, 1905; CABI/EPPO, 2012
NorwayPresentNative Not invasive Jørstad, 1962; Gjaerum, 1974; CABI/EPPO, 2012
PortugalPresentNative Not invasive Gonçalves, 1936; CABI/EPPO, 2012
RomaniaPresentNative Not invasive Savulescu, 1953; Crane, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
Russian FederationPresentNative Not invasive Sydow and Sydow, 1915; Kuprevich and Transchel, 1957; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-Eastern SiberiaPresentNative Not invasive Kuprevich and Transchel, 1957; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-Northern RussiaPresentNative Not invasive Kuprevich and Transchel, 1957; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-Russian Far EastPresentAzbukina, 1984; Crane, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-Western SiberiaPresentNative Not invasive BPI, US National Fungus Collections; Kuprevich and Transchel, 1957; CABI/EPPO, 2012
SerbiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
SpainPresentNative Not invasive Llorens i Villagrassa I, 1984; CABI/EPPO, 2012
SwitzerlandPresentNative Not invasive Körnicke, 1877; Jaap, 1908; Oechslin, 1927; CABI/EPPO, 2012
UKLocalisedIntroduced<1915 Invasive Grove, 1913; Dennis and Foister, 1942; Bennell, 1985; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-England and WalesPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
-ScotlandPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
UkrainePresentNative Not invasive Kuprevich and Transchel, 1957; CABI/EPPO, 2012


AustraliaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced<1932 Invasive Bennell, 1985; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-TasmaniaPresentIntroduced<1985 Invasive Bennell, 1985; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced Invasive Bennell, 1985; CABI/EPPO, 2012
New ZealandPresentIntroduced<1924 Invasive Dingley, 1969; McKenzie, 1998; CABI/EPPO, 2012


Top of page
Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia <1932 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Bennell (1985)
England and Wales Europe <1937 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Bennell (1985)
New Zealand <1924 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Dingley (1969)
Scotland Europe <1915 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Bennell (1985)
Scotland USA 1980 Horticulture (pathway cause)Bennell (1985); Crane (2001) Chrysomyxa reticulata?
Washington 1954 Horticulture (pathway cause)Gould et al. (1955) Chrysomyxa reticulata?


Top of page

In Europe, the rust is considered a native of sub-alpine and boreal forests (Bauer and Schwaninger, 2007; Safránková, 2008). Gould et al. (1955) noted the unexpectedness of the appearance of what was thought to be invasive C. rhododendri on imported rhododendrons in the lowland coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest of North America. Although the species occurs in northern Canada (Parmelee, 1989), no continuous range of infection on native species in the areas south towards the state of Washington was observed. Crane (2001) considers this disparity of habitat to be support for her suggestion that the outbreaks were due instead to a species native to the Pacific Northwest.

Habitat List

Top of page
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page

Farr et al. (1996) list more than 60 Rhododendron species, varieties, hybrids and cultivars of worldwide origin as hosts of C. rhododendri. Other published lists are also extensive (Bennell, 1985; Roane, 1986). Given that there are Chrysomyxa species that can be confused readily with C. rhododendri (Crane, 2001; 2005; Crane et al., 2005), some of these reports should be reconsidered. There are fewer host species in Picea, but misidentification of the aecial form may also have occurred. Reported aecial hosts are listed in Safránková (2008), and BPI (2009).

Growth Stages

Top of page Vegetative growing stage


Top of page

Infection of Picea results in transverse yellowed bands on the current year’s new needles, or whole needles may be chlorotic. The white columnar peridia of the aecia project from the undersides of the needles in summer. The needles are shed by winter, leaving bare shoots (Murray, 1955; Bennell, 1985; Bauer and Schwaninger, 2007).

In spring, red-brown spots develop on both sides of the leaves of many Rhododendron species, although the yellow pustules of the uredinia are primarily hypophyllous. In some species, uredinia also appear on leaf scars and twigs. Infected leaves are usually dropped the next year, after the telia expire, but heavily infected leaves may be dropped before winter; some species retain mature infected leaves for more than 2 years (Bennell, 1985; Safránková, 2008).

List of Symptoms/Signs

Top of page
SignLife StagesType
Leaves / abnormal colours
Leaves / abnormal leaf fall
Leaves / fungal growth
Leaves / yellowed or dead

Biology and Ecology

Top of page

Teliospores on rhododendron leaves germinate in spring to produce basidiospores that infect the young spruce [Picea] needles. Minute haploid spermagonia are the mating organs; plasmogamy after fertilization results in the production of aecia on needles during the summer. Aeciospores then infect young rhododendron leaves, and the fungus overwinters in these leaves. Brownish-orange telia, as well as yellow uredinia, develop on the undersides of leaves in spring from the previous year’s infection (Bennell, 1985). Urediniospores are a repeating spore, spreading the organism to susceptible new leaves during suitable conditions of cool temperature, low light, and high relative humidity (Roane, 1986).

Some differences have been noted in interactions between the rust pathogen and various Rhododendron hosts, apparently influenced by local climate. The fungus need not complete the full cycle of stages on both hosts, because it can persist and spread in the uredinial form through one or more generations per year on rhododendrons (Bennell, 1985). The observed absence of infection on spruce in northern Canada indicates that conditions cause this pattern on Rhododendron lapponicum (Parmelee, 1989). On the other hand, because current leaves of deciduous “azaleas” are shed in autumn, infection of the new leaves requires inoculum from spruce or evergreen rhododendrons in the spring (Bennell, 1985). In the UK, naturalized Rhododendron ponticum is susceptible to infection by aeciospores, but not urediniospores, and uredinia do not usually develop on that species (Bennell, 1985). In the highly susceptible Rhododendron charitopes, infection is not limited to leaves, and sporulation can occur on petioles, bud scales, pedicels and cataphylls (Bennell, 1985).


Top of page
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Preferred Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Preferred Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page

Natural Dispersal

Rust aeciospores, urediniospores and sporidia (basidiospores) are distributed by wind and rain-splash (Bennell, 1985).

Accidental Introduction

Introduction has occurred as the result of importation of rhododendron plants for ornamental purposes (Bennell, 1985). The latency of infections, particularly over winter, makes accidental introduction likely unless post-entry quarantine is practiced (Savile, 1973). Air travel and transport increase the likelihood of introduction of infected rhododendron plants from the wild, but transport of spruce seedlings with infected needles is unlikely, because the symptoms of current infections are conspicuous (Bennell, 1985).

Plant Trade

Top of page
Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Leaves hyphae; spores Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants hyphae Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches hyphae Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Fruits (inc. pods)
Growing medium accompanying plants
True seeds (inc. grain)

Impact Summary

Top of page
Cultural/amenity Negative
Economic/livelihood Negative

Economic Impact

Top of page

Although the loss of needles in autumn may usually have a “slight or transient” effect on the growth of spruce [Picea] trees (Hansen, 1997), Mayr et al. (2001) found that intense infections did have an effect on annual increments of wood production in subalpine Picea abies. Some of the damaged needles are retained (Mayr et al., 2009), therefore their increased transpiration, leading to increased water loss in winter, may be another factor affecting tree growth, particularly at the alpine timberline. Furthermore, natural regeneration of P. abies stands and use of the species in afforestation of alpine and boreal areas, may be hindered by C. rhododendri, because the reduction of photosynthetic capacity resulting from loss of the newest foliage has a greater effect on seedlings (Bauer and Schwaninger, 2007).

Roane (1986) states that rusts on Rhododendron are not usually a serious problem, although some species and varieties may be severely damaged. Post-entry quarantine that may require more than 6 months (Bennell, 1985), imposes an additional cost on trade in rhododendrons. Local occurrence of this rust may hinder trade in plants and germplasm.

Environmental Impact

Top of page

Given the difficulty of identifying species, rusts may be introduced to new host species in the centres of their diversity (C. rhododendri to southern China) with unforeseeable consequences for the hosts. The outbreak reported in the northwestern USA (Gould et al., 1955), even if actually due to a native species, is an example of what may happen when susceptible plant species encounter a new rust. Bauer and Schwaninger (2007) suggest that the burden of C. rhododendri attacks is one factor affecting species composition on west-facing slopes of alpine valleys, where Pinus cembra, rather than Picea abies, is predominant in association with native Rhododendron.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Host damage
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Reduced amenity values
Impact mechanisms
  • Parasitism (incl. parasitoid)
  • Pathogenic
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control


Top of page

Vialle et al. (2009) have obtained and deposited sequences for the LSU region of rRNA for 10 Chrysomyxa species, including C. rhododendri, but at least an equal number are lacking in the genus.

Detection and Inspection

Top of page

Leaves, particularly the undersides, of Picea and Rhododendron plants must be examined under low power magnification for the presence of sporulating structures (spermogonia, aecia, uredinia, telia). Where small yellow to red spots appear, these should be re-examined after incubation. A period of post-entry quarantine should be sufficient to detect latent (overwintering) infections (Savile, 1973; Bennell, 1985). Aeciospores from Picea and urediniospores from Rhododendron should be examined at high magnification, including SEM, in order to identify the rust species.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page

A number of species of Chrysomyxa occur on either Picea or Rhododendron, or on both, and new species are likely to be identified in areas where plants in these genera are part of the native flora. The work of Crane (2001; 2005) and Crane et al. (2005), including descriptions of new species, demonstrates the continuing need to clarify identities and relationships in the genus. Species are identified and distinguished by aeciospore and urediniospore size, shape and ornamentation and by peridial wall form and cell ornamentation; characters that require close and careful examination. All teliospores in this genus are one-celled and produced in chains; they do not provide many diagnostic characters. When Chrysomyxa rusts appear on introduced plants, the species known from the source area as well as the area of introduction should be considered. According to Crane (2005), “Detailed, well-illustrated descriptions of these rusts are needed for identification”, and Crane (2001) provides such descriptions and a key to nine species of the genus on spruce [Picea] and Rhododendron. Some rusts are known only from the asexual uredinial stage on rhododendrons, without connection to a telial stage or aecial host, although they may appear likely to be related to Chrysomyxa (Crane, 2001; 2005; Crane et al., 2005).

Among recently-described species, Chrysomyxa reticulata, known only from North America, differs from C. rhododendri in having smaller urediniospores, mostly less than 20 µm diameter, with an area of reticulate ornamentation, and smaller aeciospores, also mostly less than 20 µm diameter (Crane, 2001). Caeomatsukubaense, described by Crane et al. (2005) from Asian specimens that were originally identified as C. rhododendri, differs in urediniospore surface ornamentation, observable using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), as well as in the sequence of the large subunit of rDNA.

Puccinia rhododendri, an autoecious rust on native rhododendrons, has been occasionally reported from Europe (Gaumann, 1959). In the genus Puccinia, teliospores are usually two-celled and urediniospores are echinulate (Wilson and Henderson, 1966).

According to Sinclair and Lyon (2005), yellowing and defoliation may occur to the current year’s needles of certain spruce species as a result of fluoride injury. Chlorosis develops from needle tips and the affected portion eventually turns red-brown. Older needles also develop symptoms, but more slowly. Other sensitive species growing nearby would show injury symptoms, and a source of the air pollutant could be identified.

Prevention and Control

Top of page

Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.


Given the possibility of latent infections in Rhododendron, phytosanitary post-entry quarantine of imported plants is inevitable (Roane, 1986). Bennell (1985) notes the need to prevent introduction of new pathotypes of C.rhododendri to areas where the species already occurs. Clearly, if the species is, in fact, not present in the USA in areas climatically favourable for the rust and where spruce [Picea] and Rhododendron grow together, introduction of any C.rhododendri should be prevented (USDA/APHIS, 2008).


Collection and destruction of infected Rhododendron leaves is suggested (Roane, 1986). Bennell (1985) proposes removal of all of the previous year’s leaves that are retained by, or fallen off, the plants as part of an eradication effort in gardens or nurseries; an alternative would be complete destruction of heavily infected plants.


The rust can be spread locally by the distribution of infected Rhododendron plants or cuttings from a nursery or other garden (Bennell, 1985). Measures suggested to prevent this include timing of transport to the early spring, so that sporulation from latent infections would soon be evident, or removal of the previous year’s leaves; the potential source of inoculums.

Cultural Control

Adequate aeration in Rhododendron plantings should reduce the humidity and free moisture needed for spore germination (Bennell, 1985; Roane, 1986). Planting should be avoided where the alternate host is growing or the alternate host should be removed in the vicinity of the more valuable planting of either spruce or rhododendron (Bennell, 1985; Hansen, 1997).

Chemical Control

Although Bennell (1985) discussed the use of various fungicides, such as zineb, triadimefon and oxycarboxin, as a complement to eradication efforts, Roane (1986) does not propose their use for rust control. In any case, most fungicides applied to rhododendrons for the control of powdery mildew will be effective against rust (Cox, 1993). The use of fungicides is not the preferred strategy to protect young spruce trees (Hansen, 1997).

Host Resistance

Although many are recorded as susceptible to C. rhododendri (Bennell, 1985; Roane, 1986), knowledge of the species, hybrids and varieties of Rhododendron may allow selection of appropriate plants for a particular area. Many hybrids are more susceptible than their parents (Bennell, 1985). Among Picea species used in plantations in the UK, Picea sitchensis showed resistance to this rust (Bennell, 1985).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

Top of page

The work of Crane (2001; 2005) and Crane et al. (2005) demonstrates that further information is needed, including detailed descriptions of known and not-yet identified species within the range of their hosts. Comparative data on susceptibility of species or cultivars to known or new rust species would aid in quarantine efforts as well as in the selection of suitable plants for introduction.


Top of page

Azbukina ZM, 1984. Key to rust fungi of the Soviet Far East. Moscow, USSR: Izdatelstvo Nauka, 288 pp.

Bary A de, 1879. [English title not available]. (Aecidium abietinum.) Botanische Zeitschrift, 50:801-812.

Bauer H; Schwaninger C, 2007. Phytopathogens at the alpine timberline. In: Trees at their upper limit: treelife limitation at the Alpine timberline [ed. by Wieser, G.\Tausz, M.]. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag GmbH, 163-170.

Bennell AP, 1985. Rhododendron rust - taxonomic and horticultural implications. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, 43:25-52.

BPI (US National Fungus Collections), 2009. Fungal Databases - Specimens. Beltsville, USA: Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA.

Braun U, 1999. An annotated list of Mongolian phytoparasitic micromycetes. Schlechtendalia, 3:1-32.

CABI/EPPO, 2012. Chrysomyxa rhododendri. [Distribution map]. Distribution Maps of Plant Diseases, No.October. Wallingford, UK: CABI, Map 1129 (Edition 1).

Cao ZhiMin; Li ZhenQi; Zhuang JianYun, 2000. Uredinales from the Qinling Mountains. Mycosystema, 19(1):13-23.

Chen MM, 2002. Forest fungi phytogeography: Forest fungi phytogeography of China, North America, and Siberia and international quarantine of tree pathogens. Sacramento, USA: Pacific Mushroom Research and Education Center, 469 pp.

Cho WD; Shin HD, 2004. List of plant diseases in Korea. Fourth edition. Seoul, Republic of Korea: Korean Society of Plant Pathology, 779 pp.

Cox PA, 1993. The cultivation of rhododendrons. London, UK: B. T. Batsford Ltd, 288 pp.

Crane PE, 2001. Morphology, taxonomy, and nomenclature of the Chrysomyxa ledi complex and related rust fungi on spruce and Ericaceae in North America and Europe. Canadian Journal of Botany, 79(8):957-982.

Crane PE, 2005. Rust fungi on rhododendrons in Asia: Diaphanopellis forrestii gen. et sp. nov., new species of Caeoma, and expanded descriptions of Chrysomyxa dietelii and C. succinea. Mycologia, 97(2):534-548.

Crane PE; Yamaoka Y; Engkhaninun J; Kakishima M, 2005. Caeoma tsukubaense n. sp., a rhododendron rust fungus of Japan and southern Asia, and its relationship to Chrysomyxa rhododendri. Mycoscience, 46(3):143-147.

Cummins GB; Stevenson JA, 1956. A check list of North American rust fungi (Uredinales). Plant Disease Reporter, Suppl. 240. 193 pp.

Dennis RWG; Foister CE, 1942. List of diseases of economic plants recorded in Scotland. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 25:266-306.

Dingley JM, 1969. Records of plant diseases in New Zealand. Bull. N.Z. Dep. sci. ind. Res, 192. 298 pp.

Dufrenoy E, 1932. [English title not available]. (L'inegale susceptibilite des Epiceas vis-a-vis du Chrysomyxa rhododendri.) Comptes-Rendus Hebdomadaire de Seances. Mem. Soc. Biol, 109:352-353.

Eglitis M; Gould CJ; Johnson F, 1966. Fungi found on Ericaceae in the Pacific coastal area. Bulletin of the Washington State Agricultural Experiment Station, 675:21 pp.

Farr DF; Esteban HB; Palm ME, 1996. Fungi on rhododendron: a world checklist. Boone, North Carolina, USA: Parkway Publishers, 192 pp.

Gaumann E, 1959. [English title not available]. (Die rostpilze mitteleuropas mit besonderer berucksichtigung der Schweiz.) Beitrage Kryptogamenflora Schweiz, 12:1-1407.

Gjaerum HB, 1974. Nordens Rustsopper (Northern rust species.). Oslo, Norway: Fungiflora., 321 pp.

Gonçalves Da Cunha A, 1936. Uredineae of Portugal. (Uredineas de Portugal.) Bol. Soc. broteriana, 11:169-265 pp.

Gould CJ; Eglitis M; Doughty CC, 1955. European rhododendron rust in the USA. Plant Disease Reporter, 39:781-782.

Gould CJ; Shaw CG, 1969. Spore germination in Chrysomyxa spp. Mycologia, 61(4):694-717.

Grove WB, 1913. The British rust fungi (Uredinales): their biology and classification. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Hansen E, 1997. Needle and broom rusts. In: Compendium of conifer diseases [ed. by Hansen EM, Lewis KJ] Minnesota, USA: American Phytopathological Society Press, 51-53.

Hiratsuka N; Chen ZC, 1991. A list of Uredinales collected from Taiwan. Transactions of the Mycological Society of Japan, 32:3-22.

Hiratsuka N; Sato S; Katsuya K; Kakishima M; Hiratsuka Y; Kaneko S; Ono Y; Sato T; Harada Y; Hiratsuka T; Nakayama K, 1992. The Rust Flora of Japan. Takezono, Ibaraki, Japan: Tsukuba Shuppankai, 1205 pp.

Jaap O, 1908. [English title not available]. (Beitrage zur Pilzflora der osterreichsichen Alpenlander.) Annales Mycologici, 6:192-221.

Jørstad I, 1962. Distribution of the Uredinales within Norway. Nytt Magasin for Botanikk, 9:61-134.

Kobayashi T, 2007. Index of Fungi Inhabiting Woody Plants in Japan. Host, Distribution and Literature. Tokyo, Japan: Zenkoku-Noson-Kyiku Kyokai Publishing Co., 1227 pp.

Kuprevich V; Transchel V, 1957. Cryptogamic plants of the USSR, Vol. IV, Rust Fungi. No. 1, Family Melampsoraceae. Moscow, USSR: USSR Academy of Sciences.

Körnicke FA, 1877. Mykologische beitrage. Hedwigia, 16:33-40.

Laubert R; Trappmann W; 1929, April. Diseases and Injuries of Azaleas and Rhododendrons. (Krankheiten und Beschädigungen an Azaleen und Rhododendren.) Flugblatt. Biologische Reichsanstalt fur Land- und Forstwirtschaft, 99-100. Berlin, 8 pp.

Llorens i Villagrassa I, 1984. Contribution to the knowledge of Uredinales, Ustilaginales and Phragmobasidiomycetes of Spain. I. (Aportación al conocimiento de los Uredinales, Ustilaginales y Fragmobasidiomicetos de España. I.) Anales de Biología, 1(Special Section 1):35-45.

Maire R, 1905. Notes sur quelques champignons nouveaux ou peu connus. Bulletin de la Société Mycologique de France, 21:137-167.

Mayr S; Schwienbacher F; Beikircher B; Damon B, 2009. Damage in needle tissues after infection with Chrysomyxa rhododendri increases cuticular conductance of Picea abies in winter. Protoplasma, 235:1-7.

Mayr S; Siller C; Kriss M; Oberhuber W; Bauer H, 2001. Photosynthesis in rust-infected adult Norway spruce in the field. New Phytologist, 151(3):683-689.

McKenzie EHC, 1998. Rust fungi of New Zealand - An introduction, and list of recorded species. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 36(2):233-271.

McKenzie EHC, 1998. Rust fungi of New Zealand--an introduction, and list of recorded species. New Zealand J. Bot., 36:233-271.

Murray JS, 1955. Rusts of British Forest Trees. Forestry Commission booklet no. 4. Rusts of British Forest Trees. Forestry Commission booklet no. 4. London, UK: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 15 pp.

Oechslin M, 1927. The distribution of Alpine Rose rust, Chrysomyxa rhododendri, in the canton of Uri during the summers 1924 to 1926. (Die Verbreitung des Alpenrosenrostes, Chrysomyxa rhododendri, im Kanton Uri in den Sommern 1924-1936.) Schweizerische Zeitschrift fur Forstwesen, 78:316-323 pp.

Oudemans CAJA, 1905. [English title not available]. (Catalogue raisonne des champignons des Pays-Bas.) Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlands Akademie van Wetenschappen te Amsterdam, 11:1-559.

Parmelee JA, 1989. The rusts (Uredinales) of arctic Canada. Canadian Journal of Botany, 67(11):3315-3365.

Roane M, 1986. Rusts. In: Compendium of rhododendron and azalea diseases [ed. by Coyier, D. L.\Roane, M. K.]. St. Paul, Minnesota, USA: American Phytopathological Society, 26-29.

Safránková I, 2008. New records of Chrysomyxa rhododendri on Rhododendron species. Plant Protection Science, 44(3):97-100.

Savile DBO, 1950. North American species of Chrysomyxa. Canadian Journal of Research, 28(3):318-330 pp.

Savile DBO, 1955. Chrysomyxa in North America-additions and corrections. Canadian Journal of Botany, 33(5):487-496 pp.

Savile DBO, 1973. Rusts that pass import inspection. Canadian Plant Disease Survey, 53:105-106.

Savulescu T, 1953. Monografia Uredinalelor din Republica Populara Romana. I. Partea generala. Bucharest, Academiei Republicii Populare Romane, xxiv + 1166 pp.

Sinclair WA; Lyon H, 2005. Diseases of Trees and Shrubs. Second edition. New York, USA: Cornell University Press, 574 pp.

Spaulding P, 1961. Foreign diseases of forest trees of the world. Agric. Handb. U.S. Dep. Agric, 197:361 pp.

Sydow P; Sydow H, 1915. Monographia Uredinearum. Vol. 3. Pucciniaceae - Melampsoraceae Zaghouaniaceae - Coleosporiaceae. Leipzig, Germany: F. Borntraeger, 726 pp.

Traverso GB, 1903. [English title not available]. (Primo elenco di Micromiceti di Valtellina.) Annales Mycologici, 1:297-323.

Tubeuf C, 1893. [English title not available]. (Mitteilungen uber einige Pflanzenkrankheiten.) Zeitschrift fur Pflanzenkrankheiten und Pflanzenschutz, 3:140-143.

USDA/APHIS, 2008. Circular 34: Diseases of Picea spp. Post-entry Quarantine Manual for State Inspectors. Washington DC, USA: USDA, 10-152.

Vialle A; Feau N; Allaire M; Didukh M; Martin F; Moncalvo JM; Hamelin RC, 2009. Evaluation of mitochondrial genes as DNA barcode for Basidiomycota. Molecular Ecology Resources, 9:99-113.

Wilson M; Henderson DM, 1966. British rust fungi. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Ziller WG, 1974. The tree rusts of western Canada. Publication, Canadian Forestry Service, No. 1329. viii + 272 pp. + many pl.


Top of page

19/08/09 Original text by:

Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory, USDA-ARS, 10300 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705, USA

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map