Diseased plants potentially shipped to Pennsylvania nurseries from California

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – According to Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff, Pennsylvania may have received nursery plants infected with the fungus-like plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum, also known as Sudden Oak Death.

This disease affects plants, trees and other shrubbery, but poses no threat to people.

Shipped to Pa. “USDA notified the department that nursery stock potentially infected with Phytophthora ramorum had been shipped to several Eastern U.S. states, including Pennsylvania, from a large wholesale nursery stock producer in California,” said Wolff.

“PDA plant inspectors are currently visiting sites in several southeastern counties that have received shipments from the California nursery.

“Suspect plants will be inspected and sampled for analysis at PDA’s Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Harrisburg and will not be sold to the public.”

About the disease. This plant disease first appeared in California in 1995 and has since been found in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

This disease attacks at least 37 plant species, including numerous kinds of trees, shrubs and container grown nursery crops. Although this disease has killed thousands of oak trees in California, many other hosts are not killed.

Symptoms of the disease vary from host to host. Canker rot, slime flux, leaf scorch, root disease, freeze damage, herbicide injury and other ailments may be confused with this disease.

“Regulatory plant inspection programs operated in each state are coordinating closely with USDA to sample ornamental plants for pests, including Phytophthora ramorum,” said Wolff.

He also added that Pennsylvania has plant inspectors stationed in each of PDA’s seven regional offices throughout the state.

In 2003. Last year, PDA plant inspectors cooperated with USDA, the USDA Forest Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry to conduct a survey of rhododendron nurseries and forested areas and found no evidence of Phytophthora ramorum infection.

PDA’s Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory also receives samples of rhododendrons and other hosts of this disease as part of its ongoing normal inspection activities.

PDA plant inspection staff will continue to search for signs of Phytophthora ramorum and other plant pests that threaten Pennsylvania’s agriculture.

Learn more. For more information about this topic visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us.

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