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Laurel Wilt Disease Transmitted by Non-native Beetle Found in Arkansas

Photo of Dead branches on a sassafras tree with laurel wilt disease (left). The sapwood black streaking discoloration characteristic of laurel wilt seen on a sassafras tree (right). Rabiu Olatinwo, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Dead branches on a sassafras tree with laurel wilt disease (left). The sapwood black streaking discoloration characteristic of laurel wilt seen on a sassafras tree (right). Rabiu Olatinwo, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : Laurel wilt has spread rapidly across the southeastern states causing extensive mortality, primarily in redbay. Forest Service scientists and cooperators recently identified and confirmed the first report of laurel wilt on sassafras in Arkansas, following mortality of several sassafras trees in Bradley County near Warren, Arkansas.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Olatinwo, Rabiu 
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1182

Summary

Laurel wilt is a lethal disease of many plants including avocado, redbay, and sassafras. The disease is caused by a fungus carried and transmitted by an exotic ambrosia beetle introduced into the United States around 2002. The discovery of laurel wilt in Arkansas further documents the northward spread of the disease in forest types with sassafras that are beyond the native range of redbay. Although laurel wilt was reported on sassafras in northern Louisiana about 83 miles southwest of the site in Arkansas several months earlier, the new discovery in Arkansas represents another major jump in the distribution of the disease. Thus far, laurel wilt continues to spread in areas where redbay, perceived as the preferred host for the exotic ambrosia beetle, is absent.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Chandler Barton, Arkansas Forestry Commission

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