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Palm Trees Under Attack
News Bytes 08/21/2019 19 Comments

As summer winds to a close, the very image of the season—Florida palm trees—are under attack from a fatal disease called “lethal bronzing.” The illness turns them to dried crisps within months, with no chance for recovery. Scientists are working to get the disease under control.

Lethal bronzing is spread by a rice-sized, plant-hopping insect. Experts say the disease likely originated in Mexico. Today, it’s found in parts of Texas and throughout the Caribbean. Some worry it will migrate to California and Arizona, infecting date palms and damaging that fruit crop. The disease has already heavily damaged Jamaica’s coconut plantations, and Brazil is taking measures to avoid invasion.

In Florida, the disease has gone from a small infestation on the Gulf Coast to a nearly statewide problem in just over a decade. Tens of thousands of palm trees have died from the disease, and the pace of its spread is increasing.

Florida’s official state tree—the tall, broad-leafed sabal palm—is especially prone to lethal bronzing. Florida nurseries, businesses, and homeowners are losing money since they must discard infected palms. Some preventive measures can be taken, but once infected, digging up the tree is the only practical solution.

God has a purpose for the life and death of every plant and creature. And the disease is nowhere near a plague of biblical proportions. But for scientists in Florida, it’s serious. “Getting this disease under control is essential because it has the potential to drastically modify our landscape,” says Brian Bahder, who studies insect-borne plant diseases.

If nothing is done, he says, “I don’t think all the palm trees will die, but the issue we see will get a lot worse before it gets better.”

(Beachgoers sit in the shade of a palm tree in Key Biscayne, Florida. AP Photo/J Pat Carter, File)

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Most recent comments

1st Comment!!!

I think palm trees look very cool and pretty. Let's hope that this disease goes away.

1st comment

Oh no, not the palm trees!! One of my favorite memories of Florida is sitting in our van in a McDonald's parking lot after driving all night and watching the sun rise over the palm trees. It was pretty magical, even if it was in a McDonald's parking lot :-) Anyway, I hope that scientists are able to save the palm trees.

Oops, sorry Lorelei E. I

Oops, sorry Lorelei E. I think we commented at the same time :-)

@Nadia

Haha. It is fine, and your story sounds really cool, and funny considering you were in a McDonalds parking lot.

@Lena P

Whoops. I meant Lena. Sorry about the mistake.

Oh! no!! save them!!

SAVE THEM!! i hope they don't all dy out!!
ps @ Lorelei E when I saw you sad Nadia A I thought what? did I comment on here!!

Haha. Lol. Whoops

Haha. Lol. Whoops

@Nadia

Sorry I confused you. The other comment right below your was also to you.

To Above

oh no its alright!!! = )

Janna (Daniel's sister)

Oh No! I like palm trees!

@Nadia

Thx 4 understanding

@Janna

Me too. I think they look pretty and cool.

Save the Palm Trees!!

Save the Palm Trees!!

AWW

I think palm trees are beautiful, they were one of my favorite things to see when I went to California. I hope they don't all die!

@Keziah

I agree, they are beautiful.

Sad

I really hope that this gets more attention so it can be fixed. I mean what would Florida be without its iconic palm trees?

@Kinley

Agreed.

WHAT!!

noooooooo! thous are mean little bugs they are making are fruit dried out!! i hope that they dont get to far where all fruit will be dried out and trees i feel it would cause a lot of fires if all of are trees where dry

@Annie

Agreed. That would be horrible that the trees being dry would start fires.

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