From: Pennsylvania IPM Program
Published September 20, 2004 01:30 PM

Sudden Oak Death Survey In Pennsylvania

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA — Pennsylvania is taking part in a nationwide survey in an effort to protect state forests and nurseries from a newly detected disease, sudden oak death.

The Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) arm of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA is working in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) in developing the survey for sudden oak death. The first case of the disease in Pennsylvania was confirmed in a bonsai camellia shipped earlier this year to a southeastern Pennsylvania homeowner.

To ensure the disease hasn't spread, PPQ and PDA are jointly monitoring 20 nurseries in the state. According to Gary Clement, state plant health director for APHIS, PPQ, 40 samples were taken from each nursery to check for infected materials from western states, such as California, Washington and Oregon, where the disease originates. So far, all of the samples have tested negative for the disease.

This scouting effort is part of an IPM, or integrated pest management, program. IPM aims to manage pests — such as insects, diseases, weeds and animals — by combining physical, biological and chemical tactics that are safe and environmentally compatible.

According to Clement, trees infected by sudden oak death develop bleeding or oozing cankers on the trunk and decline rapidly. "The ooze is usually sticky and reddish-brown to tar-black and more easily seen during dry weather. Drooping or wilting of the foliage may occur before other symptoms appear," he explains. While the disease was initially discovered in a limited number of oak species, the disease is spreading to several plant families, including camellias, huckleberries, rhododendron and azaleas, honeysuckle and others.

Trees that are affected by sudden oak death are frequently infested by a variety of other pests, including western oak bark beetle and minor oak ambrosia beetle, says Clement. "These insects commonly infest weakened, diseased or injured trees and can contribute to the tree's demise."

According to Clement, good control options for sudden oak death are still in the process of being developed. "We are researching it, but right now our only option is to treat infected trees and other plants on a case by case basis," explains Clement. "This works well in a nursery environment, but would difficult to implement in a forest."

There is some good news, however. Pennsylvania's seasonal weather may offer its trees some protection from sudden oak death, since the fungus doesn't seem to survive well in weather extremes.

In addition to sample testing and researching control options, PPQ is trying to prevent any more diseased materials from entering the state. That means Pennsylvania nurseries and other retail stores can't accept plant materials from quarantine states, such as California, Oregon and Washington. Additionally, Clement says consumers in Pennsylvania should refrain from making mail order purchases from companies located in those states. "Certainly, the best way of preventing the spread of the disease is to keep it from entering the state in the first place. However, citizens also really need to be aware of the symptoms of this disease. If they suspects a tree or plant they own has sudden oak death, they should contact their county's Penn State Cooperative Extension office immediately," says Clement.

For more information on sudden oak death, please see PPQ's Web site at, or contact Clement at (717) 241-0705 or email at

The Pennsylvania IPM program, collaboration between the Pennsylvania State University and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, is a partner with USDA/APHIS to communicate with the general public about the occurrence and impact of invasive species. PAIPM promotes integrated pest management in both agricultural and nonagricultural situations. For more information, contact the program at (814) 865-2839, or Web site To view our archived news releases, see Web site


For more information contact:

Kristie Auman-Bauer
Public Relations and Outreach Coordinator
PA IPM Program
(814) 865-2839

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