Sudden oak death confirmed in Missouri

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(MODA) The Missouri Department of Agriculture, in coordination with USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service, has detected ramorum blight on rhododendron plants shipped to some retail nurseries in Missouri. The disease is more commonly known as Sudden Oak Death when it infects oak trees. The rhododendrons were shipped to Wal-Mart and Rural King stores throughout Missouri, as well as the Springfield Home Depot, Stark Bros. Nursery Garden Center and Fort Leonard Wood PX.

Consumers who purchased rhododendrons or lilac plants of the known infected varieties labeled Park Hill Plants from these stores between March and June of this year should dispose of the plants immediately. Consumers who are unsure of their plant’s variety should look for wilting or browning leaves, leaf spots and twig dieback. If consumers notice these symptoms, they should contact the Department’s Plant Pest Control team at (573) 751-5505 and begin the disposal process.

Varieties that have been infected should be disposed of immediately to prevent further spread of the disease. Plants may be destroyed by burning, deep burial or by double-bagging the plant with its root ball in heavy duty trash bags for disposal into a sanitary landfill. Consumers should not mulch, compost or dispose of the plant material in municipal yard waste. Garden tools used to dig up any affected plants should also be sanitized before they are used again.

Shipment of these rhododendrons has been successfully traced back to Park Hills Plants in Oklahoma and may have originated from nurseries in Washington State and Canada. Plant varieties identified during the investigation, which is still partially ongoing, were shipped to at least 18 states.