About banana freckle

Banana freckle was detected in the Top End of the Northern Territory (NT) in 2013, and a campaign to eradicate it is well under way.

Eradicating banana freckle

Banana freckle fungus cannot be eradicated by the use of chemicals, the banana plants have to be removed to eradicate the disease.

Read about how diseased plants have been removed under the banana freckle eradication program and how sentinel planting is being used to test that the fungus has been eradicated.

What it looks and feels like

Banana freckle makes leaves and fruit spotty and feel like sandpaper, which is caused by the fungal spore vessels sticking up through the surface of the leaf or skin.

Banana freckle on fruitBanana freckle on leaves

How it spreads

The spores are spread by water movement.

When the spore vessels mature, they release spores on contact with water.

Run-off spreads the spores across the host plant and can splash or be carried by wind to neighbouring plants.

It also spreads on infected suckers and fruit.

Types of banana freckle

There are three known types of banana freckle fungus, which can only be distinguished by genetic testing. 

Only one type of banana freckle, Phyllostica cavendishii, is known to infect the Cavendish banana, as well as other varieties. It reduces the yield and health of banana plants.

This species of banana freckle is listed under the Australian Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed to be targeted for eradication as it is a significant threat to commercial banana production across Australia.

The Cavendish banana is the main variety grown by the Australian banana industry. If we want a successful banana industry in the future we need to eradicate banana freckle today.

More information

Go to the following websites for more information on banana freckle:

Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 

Western Australia Department of Food and Agriculture

Plant Health Australia.

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Last updated: 27 June 2017