Magazine article American Forests

Good News on Oak Deaths?

Magazine article American Forests

Good News on Oak Deaths?

Article excerpt

After years of horror stories, there may finally be some good news on the sudden oak death front. Two sets of researchers, looking at different aspects of the killing organism, say they think they know where it originated and perhaps how to limit its growth.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley say they think infestations began on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County and in Santa Cruz County near a nursery that was infested with the disease, according to a release from the California Oak Mortality Task Force. Scientists suspect the organism arrived on normative nursery plants and was transported by humans to those two areas.

California has been hardest hit by the disease, Phytophthora ramorum, which has wreaked havoc in 14 counties. Affected trees can appear healthy for months; then the crown and leaves suddenly turn brown. Some trees even fall over. About 100 species of plants are affected, including tan oaks, coast live oaks, California black oaks, and canyon live oaks. "This is the most aggressive forest disease in the world; it is the No. 1 most wanted culprit," researcher Matteo Garbelotto told the San Francisco Chronicle. …

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