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California trees are suffering under climate change and invasive pests

Branch die-back in a Chinese flame tree because of invasive shothole borer infestation. (Photo: Beatriz Nobua-Behrmann)
Trees are facing stress from a variety of pressures in California, including climate change and exotic invasive pests, reported Jeanette Marantos in the Los Angeles Times

“There are lots of invasive pests everywhere because of global warming and the movement of plant materials in general,” said Philippe Rolshausen, UC Cooperative Extension subtropical tree specialist at UC Riverside.

Yellowing leaves, a thinning canopy and branch die-back are symptoms that the tree is sick. UC Master Gardeners, headquartered in UCCE county offices across the state, can provide free help, the article said.

Marantos listed possible reasons for common tree symptoms:

Yellow leaves: May be due to a lack of nutrients. A sudden jolt of fertilizer isn't the best solution. Homeowners often remove the best fertilizer and mulch for trees — their own fallen leaves.

Thinning canopies and branch die-back: May be the result of a soil-born disease, such a phytophthora, caused by excessive water. “Homeowners have a tendency to over-irrigate a tree that's not doing well, but soil-borne diseases actually thrive in wet soils, so that's making things even worse,” Rolshausen said. “Trees don't like standing water on their root systems because they can't breathe.”

Huanglongbing of citrus: Invested trees send up shoots of bright yellow leaves. Eventually, new leaves get twisted and mottled and the fruit stops ripening. The disease was first spotted in Southern California in the late 1990s and has since been detected in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, according to a map prepared by University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The Times article also recommended the UC Integrated Pest Management Program website to learn how to diagnose and control tree insects and diseases.

Posted on Monday, March 2, 2020 at 8:59 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

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