Help is now available to assist with removal of rhododendrons and lilacs potentially infected with sudden oak death pathogen

We are partnering to initiate a response to the potential introduction of  the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death in southeastern Ohio.  If you know anyone who purchased a rhododendron or lilac plant from Walmart or Rural King this spring, please share this post with them.  Thanks!  Dave Apsley

YouTube Video discussing  Sudden Oak Death and response in SE OHIO:

On July 16, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), in coordination with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) issued a press release indicating that sudden oak death caused by Phytophthora ramorum was detected on rhododendron and lilac plants shipped to Walmart and Rural King stores throughout the state. We have since learned that potentially infected plants were shipped to Wal-Mart and Rural King stores in the following southeastern Ohio cities: Athens, Chillicothe, Gallipolis, Jackson, Logan, Marietta, New Boston, Saint Clairsville, South Point, Waverly, West Union, and Zanesville.

Sudden oak death Phytophthora ramorum Symptoms photo by Joseph OBrien

Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts are working with the ODA and USDA APHIS to provide support to customers who purchased rhododendron plants from Wal-Mart or Rural King stores with the potential to spread sudden oak death to native woodlands in the region. Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes sudden oak death, has resulted in widespread mortality of oaks and other species in coastal areas of California and Oregon.

Even though there are no known instances of sudden oak death establishment in eastern forests, it is important to reduce the possibility of this potentially deadly disease from becoming established in our oak-dominated forests in southeastern Ohio. Oak trees contribute greatly to Ohio’s $26 billion forest products industry, provide vital habitat for many wildlife species, and are important for tourism in southeastern Ohio.

The ODA and partners are encouraging homeowners who purchased rhododendron or lilac plants from Wal-Mart or Rural King (March 1 to June 1) to monitor the plant for signs of disease, including leaf spots and shoot dieback and to properly dispose of the plants. The recommended method of disposal is double-bagging, including the root ball, in heavy duty trash bags for disposal into a sanitary landfill. Do not compost or dispose of the plant material in municipal yard waste. Garden tools used on any affected plants should be sanitized with 10% bleach solution (one-part bleach to nine-parts water) for 30 minutes.

If you think you purchased any of these potentially infected plants,  contact the individual listed below to assist in your county, for assistance with reporting, monitoring, and proper disposal of potentially infected plants.  You can also visit the following site to learn more about sudden oak death and submit a report:

COUNTY Contact Organization Email Phone
Adams David Dugan OSU Extension 937-544-2339
Athens Ed Brown OSU Extension 740-593-8555
Belmont Dan Lima OSU Extension 740-695-1455
Gallia Jeffrey Moore OSU Extension 740-446-7007
Hocking Dani Gill Hocking SWCD 740-385-3016
Jackson Dave Apsley OSU Extension 740-710-3009
Lawrence Paige Matney OSU Extension 740-533-4322
Meigs Michelle Stumbo OSU Extension 740-992-6696
Monroe Catelyn Turner OSU Extension 740-472-0810
Morgan Chris Penrose OSU Extension 740-962-4854
Muskingum Clifton Martin OSU Extension 740-454-0144
Noble Christine Gelley OSU Extension 740-732-5681
Perry Theodore Wiseman OSU Extension 740-743-1602
Pike Will Hamman OSU Extension 740-289-4837
Ross Ross Meeker OSU Extension 740-702-3200
Scioto Lacie Murray OSU Extension 740-354-7879
Vinton Dave Runkle Vinton SWCD 740-596-5676
Washington Marcus McCartney OSU Extension 740-376-7431


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