; Garden Definition: What is Club Root?
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Garden Definition: What is Club Root?

Club Root

Clubroot is a common disease of cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, radishes, turnips, stocks, wallflowers and other plants belonging to the family Brassicaceae (Cruciferae).

It is caused by Plasmodiophora brassicae, which was once considered a slime mold but is now put in the group Phytomyxea. It has as many as thirteen races. Gall formation or distortion takes place on latent roots and gives the shape of a club or spindle.

In the cabbage such attacks on the roots cause undeveloped heads or a failure to head at all, followed often by decline in vigor or by death. It is an important disease, affecting an estimated 10% of the total cultured area worldwide.

Cabbage Clubroot affects cabbage, Chinese cabbage, and Brussels sprouts most severely, but it has a range of hosts that it affects less severely like kohlrabi, kale, cauliflower, collards, broccoli, rutabaga, sea kale, turnips, and radishes.

Developing plants may not show any symptoms but as the plants get older they will start to show symptoms of chlorosis or yellowing, wilting during hot days, and exhibit stunted growth. Below ground, the roots experience cell proliferation due to increased auxin or growth hormone production from the plant as well as the pathogen.

This causes the formation of galls that can grow big enough to restrict the xylem tissue inhibiting efficient water uptake by the plant. Galls appear like clubs or spindles on the roots. Eventually the roots will rot and the plant will die.


Clubroot is very hard to control. The primary step for management and long-term control is exclusion of the disease. Good sanitation practice is important with regard to the use of tools and machinery in order to prevent the introduction of the pathogen to a disease-free field.

It is not uncommon for an inattentive farmer or gardener to unknowingly carry in the pathogen after being previously exposed to it at a different time. One should avoid purchasing infected transplants of cabbage so as to prohibit the infestation of P. brassicae.

Soil type is also an important factor in the development and spread of cabbage clubroot; the use of sand will allow for the plants to grow in well-drained soil, thereby eliminating the possibility of the pathogen to proliferate in a hospitable environment.

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