A destructive pathogen is impacting Hawaiis production of anthuriums, a plant known for its heart-shaped flower and leaves, say plant pathologists with The American Phytopathological Society (APS).
Anthuriumss flower portion, or spathe, is available in a variety of colors including brilliant shades of red, orange, pink, and salmon. Although they originated in Central America, anthuriums are now the most important cut flowers in the Hawaiian floriculture industry, said Anne Alvarez, Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI. In 2004, Hawaiis cut flower sales were valued at $13.1 million, with anthuriums ranking as the top seller at $4.7 million. At the peak of production in the early 1980s, Hawaii was supplying up to 232,000 dozen flowers per month to the world.
Anthurium production levels have been significantly reduced due to bacterial blight caused by the bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. dieffenbachiae. This disease was first reported in Kauai, HI in 1971 but had little impact on the industry until 1981 when plants began to die in large numbers on farms in Hilo, HI. "Once introduced into a new growing area, bacterial blight may result in 50-100 percent loss of plants," said Alvarez.
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