Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Disease Killing Sabal Palms

This new killer disease started with the Phoenix palms, then moved to Queen palms and now the PRELIMINARY data say its killing our state tree the Sabal palm. This is devastating news.

Sabal palmetto (cabbage palm) in Manatee County have been diagnosed with a lethal phytoplasma disease. PRELIMINARY laboratory analysis indicates that the phytoplasma that causes Texas Phoenix palm decline (TPPD) is also causing the decline of the cabbage palms. A pdf has been posted on the FLREC web site. The link is http://flrec.ifas.ufl.edu/palm_prod/pdfs/Sabal-palmetto-Infected-with-Phytoplasma-in-Florida.pdf.

If the link above does not work, go to the FLREC web site at http://flrec.ifas.ufl.edu/, then click on "Plant Pathology", then on "Palm Diseases". The pdf is the 8th document on the list. You will also find on this page a link to the pdf with directions on how to take trunk samples for phytoplasma detection (http://flrec.ifas.ufl.edu/pdfs/LY-TPPD-Trunk-Sampling.pdf).

This is going to be an extremely difficult disease to diagnose early in the disease process. Overtrimmed palms and improperly fertilized palms in the landscape will show many other symptoms that will be unrelated to this disease. Even palms in natural settings have nutritional symptoms that will be unrelated to this disease. In other words, there are various reasons why cabbage palms will not be green all the way to the bottom of the canopy, and those reasons may have nothing to do with being infected with a phytoplasma!

The entomologist at DPI who was already beginning to investigate potential insect vectors associated with Phoenix species with TPPD will expand that survey to include cabbage palms. No one expects that identification of the vector will be achieved quickly. This will be a very long-term project.

Have you seen any Sabal palms with these symptoms???

1 comment:

craig hartwig said...

I briefly read this early this month and discarded it, but while in downtown ST Augustine I saw a palm with symptoms that could be a diseased palm. This was the other day in the plaza (used to be called the slave market). That would be a big jump from Manatee / Hillsborough County, but other palms around this specimen in the area are healthy and it has been in the ground for some time. It probibly is anouther disease or deficiency. I have been in the nursery/ landscape business for 30 years and hate to see the infections that are effecting our major trees, citrus, bays, palms, next? Craig Hartwig.