Fusarium foetens is a recently described aggressive vascular pathogen of Begonia x hiemalis. Since 2004, it has caused severe losses for Begonia growers in Northern Europe and North America. F. foetens is likely to be of exotic origin. Little is known about the accumulation of the fungus in Begonia plants before and during symptom expression and about its host range. We have optimised a molecular detection method for F. foetens by only using the plant part containing the largest amount of the pathogen and by optimising the tissue maceration and DNA extraction techniques. This allowed a reliable detection limit of 2310 spore equivalents per plant and a theoretical detection limit of as low as 84 to 167 spore equivalents per plant. Using this method, we demonstrated exponential accumulation of F. foetens DNA in Begonia roots, resulting in symptoms at a threshold of approximately 10(7) spore equivalents and levelling off at 10(9) spore equivalents per plant. The observed rate of accumulation and the amount of pathogen DNA in non-symptomatic plants can be combined to determine whether the cuttings were infected after delivery at the Begonia nursery and to calculate the estimated timing of symptom development. To test the host range, we applied the optimised molecular detection technique. During these tests, only Begonia x hiemalis plants became symptomatic, but many other plant species supported growth of the pathogen. This information can be used to aid pathogen control and has implications for pest risk assessment.