Tranzschelia mexicana M. Scholler & M. Abbasi

California Pest Rating for
Tranzschelia mexicana M. Scholler & M. Abbasi
Pest Rating: B


Initiating Event:

During April, 2015, Heather Scheck, plant pathologist, Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s office detected symptoms of rust on capulin cherry nursery stock growing in a nursery in Santa Barbara County.  Cheryl Blomquist, CDFA plant pathologist, examined infected leaf samples and identified the associated rust pathogen Tranzschelia mexicana.  This pathogen was first found in Santa Barbara in 2014 in 4 year old cherry trees grown in a residential backyard garden.

History & Status:

BackgroundTranzschelia mexicana is a fungal pathogen that causes rust in capulin cherry trees.  The pathogen was originally described from Mexico and thus named to indicate its natural distribution in southern Mexico.  It is assumed that this pathogen requires two different kinds of hosts to complete its life cycle (also called a host alternating rust) and is macrocyclic (i.e., produces urediniospores, teliospores and basidiospores on main host and spermatia and aeciospores on an alternate host).  However, the alternate host as well as spermogonia and aecia (fruiting structures producing spermatia and aeciospores respectively) are unknown for T. mexicana. Furthermore, Blomquist et al. (2015) did not detect telia in rust-infected capulin cherry leaves that were collected from trees in Santa Barbara County, California, during October and November 2014 and January 2015 and thereby, deduced that the fungal species does not form telia.  This is not unusual for host alternating rusts when aecial hosts (alternate hosts) are not present in regions. Scholler et al., suggest that Anemone mexicana – a plant native to the Valley of Mexico – might be the aecial host for the capulin rust pathogen.  Nevertheless, it is likely that T. mexicana has spread without its aecial host via production of urediniospores only (Scholler et al., 2014).

Hosts: Capulin/Mexican black cherry, (Prunus salicifolia, Rosaceae) is the only reported host for Tranzschelia mexicana (Scholler et al., 2014; Blomquist et al., 2015).

Symptoms: Tranzschelia mexicana causes yellow spots on the upper side of leaves and brownish pustules on the underside.  Entire infected trees are susceptible to high infestations although fewer pustules may be present in younger leaves than older leaves.  Severe infestations may cause defoliation and reduced plant stands (Blomquist et al., 2015).

Damage Potential:  Capulin cherry is not a commercially cultivated crop in California, however, a small percentage of nursery stock plants are sold in the retail market.  Infections of this rust pathogen could negatively impact production and value of plants in private residences, public parks, amusement parks, and other environments. Rusted capulin cherry leaves are not only aesthetically unsightly but also negatively impact plant growth.  Severe infestations of rust can result in defoliation and reduction in plant growth, vigor and stand.  Containment and management of the rust pathogen can be difficult as infected leaves produce masses of air-borne spores enabling long-range spread and infection.

Transmission:  The pathogen is spread from plant to plant mainly by windblown spores.  Urediniospores can be transported over several hundred kilometers by strong winds and washed down by rain to available hosts.  Insects, animals, humans, and rain may also aid in spreading spores to non-infected plants. Infected nursery plants also aid in introducing and spreading the pathogen.

Worldwide Distribution: North America: Mexico, USA (California – CDFA pest detection records); South America: Colombia, Ecuador (Scholler et al., 2014). It is assumed that the distribution of the capulin rust pathogen extends beyond the above mentioned distribution in the Americas where capulin cherry is cultivated.

Official Control: None reported.

California Distribution:  Capulin rust pathogen, Tranzschelia mexicana, has been detected in residential backyard and nursery environments in Santa Barbara County (see ‘Initiating Event’).

California Interceptions:  There have been no quarantine interceptions of Tranzschelia mexicana was intercepted in California.

The risk Tranzschelia mexicana would pose to California is evaluated below.

Consequences of Introduction: 

1)  Climate/Host Interaction: Evaluate if the pest would have suitable hosts and climate to establish in California. Score:

– Low (1) not likely to establish in California; or likely to establish in very limited areas
– Medium (2) may be able to establish in a larger but limited part of California
High (3) likely to establish a widespread distribution in California.

Risk is High (3) – Tranzschelia mexicana is able to establish wherever capulin cherry trees are grown in California.  Capulin cherry (Prunus salicifolia) is a rare fruit and is grown in many low chill regions in California for its flowers and edible fruit.

2)  Known Pest Host Range: Evaluate the host range of the pest:

Low (1) has a very limited host range
– Medium (2) has a moderate host range
– High (3) has a wide host range.

Risk is Low (1) Currently the host range of Tranzschelia mexicana is limited to capulin cherry (Prunus salicifolia). The alternate host for this pathogen is not known. Blomquist et al (2015) did not find symptoms of rust on several peaches, apricots and other Prunus spp. that were growing on the same property with rust-infested capulin cherry trees.

3)  Pest Dispersal Potential: Evaluate the dispersal potential of the pest:

-Low (1) does not have high reproductive or dispersal potential
-Medium (2) has either high reproductive or dispersal potential
High (3) has both high reproduction and dispersal potential.

Risk is High (3) – The infective spores of Tranzschelia mexicana namely, urediniospores, are produced in abundance and are spread to healthy plants mainly by wind. Insects, animals, humans, rain, and infected nursery plants also aid in its spread.

4)  Economic Impact: Evaluate the economic impact of the pest to California using these criteria:

A.   The pest could lower crop yield.
B.   The pest could lower crop value (includes increasing crop production costs).
C.   The pest could trigger the loss of markets (includes quarantines).
D.   The pest could negatively change normal cultural practices.
E.   The pest can vector, or is vectored, by another pestiferous organism.
F.   The organism is injurious or poisonous to agriculturally important animals.
G.   The organism can interfere with the delivery or supply of water for agricultural uses.

-Low (1) causes 0 or 1 of these impacts
-Medium (2) causes 2 of these impacts
High (3) causes 3 or more of these impacts.

Risk is High (3) – Severe infestations of the capulin cherry rust pathogen could result in defoliation and reduction of plant growth, vigor and stand, and loss of markets. Nursery plantings are at risk being significantly impacted by the introduction of this pathogen. Without eradicative action subsequent to detection of bamboo rust-infected plants within greenhouse environments, there is the risk of further spread to the outside environment. The spread of the rust pathogen would be difficult to manage due to its effective means of windblown transmission.

5)  Environmental Impact: Evaluate the environmental impact of the pest on California using these criteria:

A.   The pest could have a significant environmental impact such as lowering biodiversity, disrupting natural communities, or changing ecosystem processes.
B.   The pest could directly affect threatened or endangered species.
C.   The pest could impact threatened or endangered species by disrupting critical habitats.
D.   The pest could trigger additional official or private treatment programs.
E.   The pest significantly impacts cultural practices, home/urban gardening or ornamental plantings.

Score the pest for Environmental Impact:

– Low (1) causes none of the above to occur
– Medium (2) causes one of the above to occur
High (3) causes two or more of the above to occur.

Risk is High (3) – Capulin cherry plantings for aesthetic and rare fruit production value by private growers may be impacted by the capulin cherry rust pathogen subsequently triggering additional treatment programs.

Consequences of Introduction to California for Tranzschelia mexicana

Add up the total score and include it here. (Score)

Low = 5-8 points
Medium = 9-12 points
High = 13-15 points

Total points obtained on evaluation of consequences of introduction of Tranzschelia mexicana to California = (13).

6)  Post Entry Distribution and Survey Information: Evaluate the known distribution in California. Only official records identified by a taxonomic expert and supported by voucher specimens deposited in natural history collections should be considered. Pest incursions that have been eradicated, are under eradication, or have been delimited with no further detections should not be included. (Score)

-Not established (0) Pest never detected in California, or known only from incursions.
-Low (-1) Pest has a localized distribution in California, or is established in one suitable climate/host area (region).
-Medium (-2) Pest is widespread in California but not fully established in the endangered area, or pest established in two contiguous suitable climate/host areas.
-High (-3) Pest has fully established in the endangered area, or pest is reported in more than two contiguous or non-contiguous suitable climate/host areas.

Evaluationis Low (-1): Presently, Tranzschelia mexicana is only established in Santa Barbara, California.

Final Score:

7) The final score is the consequences of introduction score minus the post entry distribution and survey information score: (Score)

Final Score:  Score of Consequences of Introduction – Score of Post Entry Distribution and Survey Information = 12


Future detection surveys for Tranzschelia mexicana in nurseries and established capulin cherry plantings are needed to gain further information of the probable introduction, establishment and distribution of this pathogen in California.  This information could alter the proposed rating.

Conclusion and Rating Justification:

Based on the evidence provided above the proposed rating for Tranzschelia mexicana is B.


Agrios, G. N.  2005.  Plant Pathology (Fifth Edition).  Elsevier Academic Press, USA.  922 p.

Blomquist, C. L., M. Scholler and H. J. Scheck.  2015.  Detection of rust caused by Tranzschelia mexicana on Prunus salicifolia in the United States.  Plant Disease (Accepted for publication).

California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.  1997. Capulin cherry Prunus salicifolia HBK. Fruit Facts. .

Scholler, M., M. Abbasi and F. Friedrich.  2014.  Tranzschelia in the Americas revisited: two new species and noted on the Tranzschelia thalictri complex.  Mycologia, 106: 448-455. DOI: 10.3852/12-260.

Responsible Party:

John J. Chitambar, Primary Plant Pathologist/Nematologist, California Department of Food and Agriculture, 3294 Meadowview Road, Sacramento, CA 95832. Phone: 916-262-1110,

Comment Period:  CLOSED

The 45-day comment period opened on June 1, 2015 and closed on July 16, 2015.


Posted by ls