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Leaf and Bud Eelworm

Aphelenchoides spp.

Leaf and Bud Eelworm, Foliar Roundworm, Foliar Nematode

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Nematodes, or eelworms, are tiny, worm-like creatures that live in the soil. They're microscopic and can't be seen with the human eye. Many groups are nematodes are beneficial in soils; however, some can be plant pathogens. Eelworms in the group Aphelenchoides are mostly harmless to plants. However, there are a handful of species which can be damaging. These include A. ritzemabosi and A. fragariae, which attack Chrysanthemums and strawberries and ferns respectively. Symptoms can vary depending on the species of nematode and the host it attacks, but general signs of infection include stunted growth, deformed growth and water-soaked patches on flowers. Because flower growth is impacted the nematodes can influence fruit production, too.


Attack the rooting systems of Potatoes and other plants in Solanaceae.


Identification: Because nematodes are so small, the best way to detect infestations is by using the symptoms of unhealthy plants. Look out for overall reduction in growth during peak growth seasons, coupled with deformed growth and water-soaked patches on flowers. In Chrysanthemums, you might also notice distorted leaves with yellow patches which ultimately turn brown then black. Flowers which emerge will be small and deformed, and the leaves shrivel and drop. In Strawberries: The leaves become puckered and smaller leaves develop crinkled edges. The leaf stalks turn red and stunted, while flowers drop. In Ferns: Leaves develop stripey blotches.


In Chrysanthemums: Stunted growth New growth turns black Dwarfed stems Leaves shrivel, die and hang Undersized flowers with deformities In Strawberries: Stunted growth Leaf, bud and flower deformities Smaller leaves develop crinkled edges Leaf stalks turn reddish in colour Flowers drop from plants, reduced fruit production






Biological treatment

Practise good hygiene by sterilising plant tools regularly. Always buy plants from trusted retailers. Try to avoid splashing on leaves by watering at the base of the plant and not using sprinklers to irrigate plants. Provide well-drained soils. Use materials which are certified as nematode free, wherever possible. There are resistant varieties that you can plant to help reduce the overall population of nematodes in the soil. The varieties of Chrysanthemums include Amy Shoesmith, Delightful, Orange Beauty and Orange Peach Blossom. Extended crop rotations may be required to starve and eradicate populations.

Chemical treatment



A close up of a fern plant


Fern Plants


Fragaria spp.


Chrysanthemum spp.

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