What is wrong with the Sabal palm?
It’s difficult to believe that our state tree, Sabal palmetto, is presenting some difficulties. For me, Sabals are a bullet proof plant, until recently…
What is the culprit? Lethal bronzing disease (LBD)!
- It used to be called Texas Phoenix Palm Decline (TPPD).
- It was discovered in Florida in 2006 and is caused by a phytoplasma—a type of bacteria that lacks a cell wall and cannot be cultured with artificial media.
- The phytoplasma is similar to, but genetically distinct from the phytoplasma that causes lethal yellowing (LY) disease of palms.
- The LBD phytoplasma is limited to the phloem (sap) of the palm and cannot survive outside a plant or insect; therefore, it cannot be mechanically transmitted (e.g., by pruning tools or infected roots touching new roots).
- Once a palm shows symptoms and tests positive for the LBD phytoplasma, it should be removed immediately.
- Healthy palms near infected palms should be tested to verify that they are free of infection and injected with oxytetracycline HCl (OTC) every three to four months as a preventative for at least two years.
- For proper management early detection is key
- As of today, the list of palm host are:
|Scientific Name||Common Name|
|Adonidia merrillii||Christmas Palm|
|Bismarckia nobilis||Bismarck Palm|
|Butia capitata||Pindo Palm|
|Carpentaria acuminata||Carpentaria Palm|
|Cocos nucifera||Coconut Palm|
|Livistona chinensis||Chinese Fan Palm|
|Phoenix canariensis||Canary Island Date Palm|
|Phoenix dactylifera||Edible Date Palm|
|Phoenix roebelinii||Pygmy Date Palm|
|Phoenix sylvestris||Wild Date Palm|
|Pritchardia pacifica||Fiji Fan Palm|
|Pseudophoenix sargentii||Buccaneer Palm|
|Sabal Mexicana||Mexican Palmetto|
|Sabal palmetto||Cabbage Palm|
|Syagrus romanzoffiana||Queen Palm|
|Trachycarpus fortunei||Chinese Windmill Palm|
Note: the list may grow over time!
For more information about LBD, check the UF/IFAS publication at: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pp163