Queen Palm Disease

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The death of Queen Palm trees due to disease is becoming a growing problem in the state of Florida, where these beautiful trees live. Thousands of trees have died and rotted from the inside out, killing one of the icons of the Florida landscape.

What Is the Queen Palm?

  • The Queen Palm (scientific name: Syagrus romanzoffiana) originally comes from the tropical regions of South America such as Brazil and parts of Argentina, but is often moved to areas like the southern half of Florida for landscaping purposes. It has become one of the most popular palm trees for landscaping in Florida. The queen palm grows to a height of roughly 50 feet with feather-like fronds.

Symptoms of Queen Palm Disease

  • When a Queen Palm contracts Queen Palm Disease, the leaves slowly start to turn from their natural green to brown due to mineral deficiencies. The plants are unable to get enough boron and manganese, which they need to maintain their color. This process starts with the lowest leaves of the tree, before making its way up the tree until all of the leaves have turned brown. The disease then makes its way into the bud of the plant, completely killing the tree. The trunk of the tree dies and becomes completely rotted out.

Misconceptions

  • There are many misconceptions about what is causing Queen Palm trees to die so rapidly across southern Florida. One popular misconception is that it is the result of the effects of 2004's Hurricane Katrina, but this is not the case. Queen Palms began initially showing the symptoms of Queen Palm Disease in 2003, one year before Hurricane Katrina, although the problem has become more widespread in recent years.
    Initially, scientists thought Queen Palm Disease was caused by a fungus because of how rotted out the trunk of the Queen Palm became as it died, but closer analysis showed that this didn't happen until later stages of the disease, thus ruling out a fungus.

Cause of Queen Palm Disease

  • Scientists still aren't entirely sure what is causing so many Queen Palm trees to die in Florida. Having ruled out nearly every other option, the most accepted theory is that some sort of harmful pathogen is reaching the trees and causing them to catch this deadly disease. It is unclear whether this pathogen is reaching the tree through the air or through the soil.

Solutions

  • Because science has been unable to uncover the mystery of what pathogens are killing Queen Palm trees, it is very difficult to treat or prevent Queen Palm Disease from attacking these trees.
    It is recommended that once a Queen Palm tree dies and is removed that another Queen Palm isn't planted in the same spot, in case that specific area is infected. Otherwise, until this mystery is solved, very little can be done to fight it.

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