How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Ficus canker—Neofusicoccum mangiferae (=Nattrassia mangiferae) and Botryosphaeria spp.

Indian laurel fig, or Chinese banyan, Ficus microcarpa =F. retusa, when stressed, is highly susceptible to ficus canker. The disease, also called ficus branch canker, bot canker, or sooty canker, is caused by a complex of fungi.


Apparently healthy branches are often interspersed with diseased or dead branches. New shoots often sprout on the limb or trunk below dead branches.

The main symptoms are branch dieback, crown thinning, and, if the disease progresses to the trunk, eventual tree death. The entire tree can die within 2 or 3 years after the initial symptoms.

Life cycle

The fungi infect Indian laurel fig through mechanical injury or pruning wounds and cause disease when trees are stressed. Disease generally progresses from leaf fading or yellowing, to premature leaf drop, canopy thinning, and then branch death.

Advanced age (which reduces tree vigor) and unfavorable growing conditions (e.g., the root zone compacted or paved over) make Indian laurel fig highly susceptible to disease. Dying trees also commonly received inadequate irrigation, excessive canopy pruning, or root pruning to repair pavement.


Provide proper cultural care to minimize tree stress. Avoid severe pruning of ficus and conduct needed pruning during dry weather. Prune off cankered or dying limbs at least 6 inches below any cankers. To avoid spreading the pathogens, scrub cutting blades clean and disinfect them between cuts and avoid using chain saws.

Ficus canker symptoms on Indian laurel fig
Ficus canker symptoms on Indian laurel fig

Trees killed by ficus canker
Trees killed by ficus canker

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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