This disease starts with a tiny little insect called plant hopper that feeds on a tree’s sap. They inject their saliva into its tissue through their “needle-like mouths. When a planthopper feeds on an infected tree, they become a carrier of the disease. It turns diseased leaves brown. Once the leaf has died, no new leaves will develop, and the remaining leaves will continue to become discolored or necrotic from the oldest to the youngest leaves. Then, the disease slowly morphs into each leaf until the whole tree dies. The process is called lethal bronzing.
The first case, ‘Ground Zero’ of this Palm Tree killer, was found in Hillsborough in 2006. Now it has spread through Florida. This disease isn’t new. It was called Texas Phoenix Palm Decline. Once a palm tree is infected, it lasts no more than five months.nAnother name for Texas Phoenix Palm Decline is Date Palm Lethal Decline.
In 2002, the first case of lethal bronzing occurred in Texas. But it wasn’t until 2006 that the disease was first identified in Florida.
Once a planthopper feeds on a healthy tree, the disease is instantly transferred. And just like that, a quick feeding process turns a healthy tree into a sick one.
Lethal Bronzing is a relatively new bacterial disease called a phytoplasma that is causing significant palm losses in Florida.
Older fronds die first and may be reddish-brown, dark-brown or grayish depending upon which species is affected, and stage of infection. Symptoms can sometimes be confused with nutrient deficiencies like potassium, or Fusarium wilt. Flower spikes may die prematurely, and fruit may drop off prematurely.
Symptoms are similar to lethal yellowing but affect a much smaller number of palm species. The damaged vascular system of the palm leads to wilting, and eventually death. Affected Palm Tree species include Queen, Pygmy Date, Sabal (Cabbage), and other Phoenix species, Christmas, Bismarck, Chinese Fan, and Carpentaria palms.
The disease can be confirmed by laboratory analysis of tissue extracted from the trunk. Tree experts can remove and dispose of infected symptomatic palms.
Antibiotic injections to non-symptomatic susceptible species growing around removed palms can save the tree. The injections can cost between $20-50 per shot.
If you have any problems with your palm trees in Tampa Bay, work with an experienced tree service to diagnose the issue, and either treat the disease or remove the palm tree to avoid transferring the disease to other trees on your property.
If you need a quality tree service to trim and prune your trees, give us a call today at 727-525-7433 to schedule your complimentary estimate.
Forever Green Landscape and Tree Service is a full-service tree company located in St. Petersburg, Florida that has been serving Tampa Bay since 1978. If you are looking for tree care services – from removing dead or diseased trees, trimming overgrown or hazardous trees and delicately pruning valuable fruit trees, and stump grinding – you can count on our reasonable rates and quality workmanship. Contact us today at 727-525-7433 to schedule your complimentary estimate.