Sooty molds are Ascomycete fungi which grow on plant exudates and the sugary honeydew secreted by insects such as aphids, scales, the whitefly, and other insects which suck sap from their host plants. The name itself is descriptive, as sooty mold is a black, powdery coating adhering to the leaves of ornamental plants such as azaleas, gardenias, camellias, crepe myrtles, and laurels. Plants located under pecan or hickory trees are particularly susceptible to sooty mold, because honeydew-secreting insects often inhabit these trees. The honeydew can rain down on neighboring and understory plants. The fungus itself does little harm to the plant; it merely blocks sunlight, and very rarely may stunt a plant's growth and yellow its foliage. Thus, sooty mold is essentially a cosmetic problem in the garden, as it is unsightly and can coat most of a plant in a matter of days or weeks. Some common genera causing sooty molds are Cladosporium, Aureobasidium, Antennariella, Limacinula, Scorias, and Capnodium.
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