Tree Disease Found In Union Parish

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Researchers at the LSU AgCenter say laurel wilt, a devastating disease for many Louisiana trees in the Lauraceae family, has been found in sassafras trees in Union Parish.

         LSU's Raj Singh said the disease is caused by a fungus that clogs a tree's water-conducting tissue. As a result, the tree wilts and eventually dies.

         Trees susceptible to laurel wilt include redbay, sassafras, pondberry, pondspice, swampbay, camphor tree, spicebush, avocado and California laurel.

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         Singh says initial symptoms include rapid wilting and drooping of leaves. Later, trees exhibit reddish to purplish-brown discoloration of foliage.

         Brown leaves remain attached to the branches for a year or more in the case of redbay, but shed quickly in other trees. Removing bark from infected trees reveals black discoloration of sapwood, Singh said.

         The fungus is transmitted from tree to tree by the redbay ambrosia beetle. Both beetle and fungus also may spread to new locations as firewood is transported from an infected area, Singh said.

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         Early symptoms of laurel wilt can be easily misdiagnosed with the damage caused the black twig borer, he said.


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