I did a live interview with WGCU’s Julie Glenn today. Hear the latest on the disease and efforts to fight it:
High above the Apalachicola River, in 1833 H.B. Croom discovered a rare native conifer. Torreya taxifolia is named for the eminent American botanist John Torrey, and the current range only extends through 3 counties on the Florida-Georgia border. It is estimated that 99% of the population has been lost in the past century, most likely from a fungal pathogen that kills the mature tree and stunts and retards new growth. No new adult trees are seen in the wild, they do not set seed and only reproduce from the stumps.
A conservation plan has been proposed that includes cultivation of seedlings, disease-free clone production from tissue culture, and continued aggressive conservation of Torreya taxilfolia in its native range. To that end, more work is needed to survey the full biodiversity of its habitat and learn what we can from studying the communities of flora, fauna and fungi that share the ecosystem of this, the rarest North American conifer.
It is my pleasure to invite you to attend this national conference addressing laurel wilt disease, to be held in Coral Springs, Florida, June 16-18, 2015.
Laurel wilt is one of the most damaging invasive exotic tree diseases to affect forests in North America. Current estimates show that hundreds of millions of trees have died, with multiple significant radiating effects on ecosystem structure and function, endangered species and cultural impacts. The disease continues to expand into new areas affecting diverse resources (sassafras in Louisiana and the swamp bay tree islands of the Everglades, for example).
A concerted effort between the research community, agencies, and land and natural resource managers is needed to address this rapidly expanding threat.
This conference provides a timely opportunity to learn the most recent state of knowledge regarding laurel wilt, its biology, impacts in native ecosystems and efforts to mitigate for its devastating effects.
We encourage individuals from across the country to join us and be a part of this important national discussion.
For more information visit http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/LaurelWilt/
A disease new to our region appears to be causing significant damage to native pine species in North and Central Florida, and may be spreading. We need your help to determine the current extent and learn more about this potentially damaging disease to such a economically and ecologically important tree species. Click here to see more information and learn how you can participate.
Our studies with European bay laurel show it is highly susceptible to laurel wilt. The Disease Note is in the August issue of Plant Disease:
Here is a short version story with an interview I did last week on NPR regarding laurel wilt in the Everglades.
Our work with Florida torreya continues, but many questions remain.