Q: My camellia plant seemed to wilt over night. Does it have the sudden oak death fungus?
A: The leaves on the camellia have wilted but I suspect the culprit is a root rot. Your camellia probably does not have the same disease causing agent, Phytophthora ramorum, as sudden oak death (SOD). You have no lesions, spots or necrosis on the leaves (similar to the ones in the attached photo). The roots of camellia infected with the fungal pathogen for SOD usually show no symptoms of disease. The roots of your plant showed numerous lesions with brown decayed areas. All the large primary roots from the trunk were decayed which resulted in the plant being unable to take up water and nutrients. This inability to take up water caused the plant to wilt. The disease has probably been working on this plant for some time but with the drought in the spring followed by sudden large amounts of rainfall the tree finally died. Diseases such as root rots and leaf spots on woody ornamental plants often occur when too much irrigation is applied. Another common mistake is planting the shrubs too deeply, which will eventually reduce the amount of air around the roots. Remember roots need 50% of the soil surrounding them to be made up of air and water. Unfortunately, there is not chemical fix for this problem; the tree needs to be pulled up and destroyed.