The Q&A Archives: Carambola

Question: I've notice the leaves have fallen off my Carambola tree and the trunk/branches look dark and moldy looking. What should I do to treat it?

Answer: I'm not exactly sure what the problem might be. Carambola trees are evergreen, although when grown in cooler locations, they lose some or all of their leaves during the late winter and early spring. Trees grow rapidly in locations protected from strong winds. If the leaves have fallen, it may be due to wind or temperature. Carambola trees have only limited tolerance to drought. Symptoms of excessively dry soil conditions (drought) include leaf folding, leaf wilting, yellowing and browning of leaves, leaf drop, reduced flowering and fruit size, stem and limb dieback, and in severe drought, tree death.

Carambola trees are attacked by a number of scale insects including plumose (Morganella longispina) and philephedra (Philephedra tuberculosa) scales, which attack leaves and twigs, causing defoliation and stem dieback. The diaprepes weevil (Diaprepes abbreviatus) causes damage to the roots, which may lead to root and shoot dieback. Reddish colored leaf spot diseases are caused by various fungi (Cercospora averrhoa, Corynespora cassiicola, Phomopsis sp., Gloesporium sp. and Phyllosticta sp.). Observations indicate that these leaf spot fungi are more common on environmentally stressed or nutritionally deficient trees and occur on older leaves that normally abscise (drop) during the winter and early spring. No control is necessary for these leaf spotting fungi. Twigs and limbs may be attacked by red alga (Cephaleuros virescens). Symptoms include rough, circular, greenish-grey or rusty-red areas and shoot dieback.

If any of these symptoms seem to fit your carambola, contact your local County Extension Agent for current control measures.

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