I've just pruned the leaves that have died off of my Dracaena Massangeana houseplant. I covered its ailments in two previous questions:

The dead leaves came off very easily, and I reached the core of the stem where I saw what looked like white "mold" in small patches (roughly 3 mm in diameter) around the dead part of the stem.

At this point I put on gloves and moved my plant somewhere away from the other houseplants in my room in order to avoid contaminating them.

I am worried that being around and breathing the air potentially contaminated with whatever was growing and affected my plant may have adverse health effects on me.

Specifically, from researching the spots on my plant's leaves, one of the likely results was Fusarium Leaf Spot Disease. From another cursory search, it appears that fungus of the Fusarium genus may produce mycotoxin that is harmful or even lethal to humans.

I imagine it's hard to identify exactly what the growth on my houseplant was, but I want to be sure I am not harming my health as a result of having dealt with it in the same confined space where I spend much of my day and sleep.

I'm wondering:

  • Is there a risk of infection or general health risks for me after having dealt with this plant with bare hands and without any protection for my respiratory tract?
  • Should I take action to prevent potential further complications, such as leaving my room or airing it thoroughly?
  • 4
    There are about 1000 different species of Fusarium. Some are cultured industrially as a human food source (to create fake meat products for vegetarians). Some are highly toxic - in particular, a species that causes disease in cereal crops. Most are just harmless, except to plants, and occur everywhere in the soil. IMO you are over-reacting, but if you are worried you need professional advice, not whatever "some research you did on the web" tells you. Millions of people have house plants that die from fungal diseases, but I don't see any reports of mass human deaths as a result!
    – alephzero
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 20:43
  • 3
    Opening a window might be useful just to get some fresh air generally, but you'll be fine otherwise, don't worry about the mould, it won't affect you
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 21:11
  • 4
    Agreed, you have nothing to worry about. Now... driving your car everyday, that's a different story.
    – Rob
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 21:38

1 Answer 1


The air is full of fungal spores, and that's how the fungus found its way to your plant in the first instance. The infection did not arise de novo. In the same way that bread left out on your table goes green, it's because fungal spores in the house air landed on the food and then started to grow.

Fungi sporulate usually when the conditions are no longer suitable for their growth. It's time to move on as it were.

Sporulation usually occurs when growth rate is reduced and is hampered under conditions that favor rapid mycelial growth (Dahlberg and Etten 1982 Dahlberg, KR and Etten, J. 1982. Physiology and biochemistry of fungal sporulation. Annu Rev Phytopathol, 20(1): 281–301. [Crossref], [Web of Science ®], , [Google Scholar] ). Starvation or nutritional depletion often stimulates sporulation, and some modifications of artificial media with low nutrient have been applied (Wulandari et al. 2009 Wulandari, N, To-Anun, C, Hyde, K, Duong, L, de Gruyter, J, Meffert, J, Groenewald, J and Crous, P. 2009. Phyllosticta citriasiana sp. nov., the cause of Citrus tan spot of Citrus maxima in Asia. Fungal Divers, 34: 23–39. [Web of Science ®], , [Google Scholar] ; Braun et al. 2011 Braun, U, Crous, PW, Groenewald, JZ and Scheuer, C. 2011. Pseudovirgaria, a fungicolous hyphomycete genus. IMA Fungus, 2(1): 65–69. [Crossref], , [Google Scholar] ). Some typical low nutrient media include water agar media, half- or 1/4-strength PDA (Masangkay et al. 2000 Masangkay, RF, Paulitz, TC, Hallett, SG and Watson, AK. 2000. Characterization of sporulation of Alternaria alternata f. sp. sphenocleae. Biocontrol Sci Technol, 10(4): 385–397. [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], , [Google Scholar] ), and synthetic nutrient-poor agar medium (Nirenberg 1976 Nirenberg, HI. 1976. Untersuchungen über die morphologische und iologische Differenzierung in der Fusarium Sektion Liseola. Mitt Biol Bundesanst Land- Forstwirtsch (Berlin–Dahlem), 169: 1–117. [Google Scholar] ).

Generally fungal plant diseases don't affect humans unless a mycotoxin has been produced and you consume it. Some fungi cause asthma in susceptible immunocompromised individuals when they breathe them into their lungs.

If you're a healthy person, I'd ignore this as a very low to zero risk event.

However, I personally now wear a PM 2.5 mask when dealing with commercial composts and potting mixes due to the risk of Legionella infection.



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