Laurel Wilt Disease and the Endangered Pondberry Shrub

Pondberry (Lindera melissifolia) is a rare, federally endangered shrub that’s found scattered around bottomland forests of the southeastern U.S. In late summer, the shrub produces spicy, crimson-colored fruits. Like other native Lauraceae species, its leaves give off a sweet, citrusy scent when crushed. And, like its Lauraceous brethren redbay and sassafras, pondberry is susceptible to…  More 

Redbay Ambrosia Beetle in Sassafras & Redbay

Redbay ambrosia beetles (Xyleborus glabratus) reproduce best in wood that’s dead or dying, according to a recent USDA Forest Service study. “Redbay trees that have just died from laurel wilt are incredibly attractive to redbay ambrosia beetles,” says SRS plant pathologist Stephen Fraedrich. “A redbay tree that has recently died can attract thousands of beetles.”…  More 

Promoting Forest Health in Kentucky

Most bourbon whiskey is made in Kentucky, and federal law requires all bourbon to be aged in white oak barrels. USDA Forest Service researchers and partners are teaming up to advance the sustainability and restoration of white oak resources across the South. This research, along with forest health research on the American chestnut and other…  More 

Study Supports Single Introduction of Laurel Wilt Pathogen in the U.S.

Laurel wilt has devastated plants in the Lauraceae family – redbay, sassafras, pondberry, avocado, and others – since it was first detected in the southeastern U.S. around 2002. The disease is caused by the pathogen Raffaelea lauricola and carried by the redbay ambrosia beetle – and by humans moving infested wood. There is no widespread,…  More 

The State of the Nation’s Forests

Forests are constantly changing with weather, disturbance, and conversion to other land uses, but how do we know if year-to-year changes are just a one-off or part of a larger shift? Annual summaries of forest health are key to our understanding, say the editors and authors that produced Forest Health Monitoring: National Status, Trends, and…  More 

How Cold Is Too Cold for Redbay Ambrosia Beetles?

Nonnative redbay ambrosia beetles and the fungus they carry have killed hundreds of millions of trees in the Southeast since first detected in 2002. Currently, only cold temperatures limit the beetles’ establishment and spread in the eastern United States. A study led by Mississippi State University involving U.S. Forest Service researchers determined the coldest temperatures…  More 

FIA Update on Alabama’s Forests

In the forests of Alabama you’ll find longleaf pine woodlands, bottomland swamps, sinkholes, and springs. You’ll see fox squirrels, indigo snakes, gopher tortoises, and pitcher plants. The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the U.S. Forest Service collects field data on forest resources across the state, visiting around 700 of the more than 5,600…  More 

One is the Deadliest Number

When the redbay ambrosia beetle, native to Asia, was first detected in coastal Georgia in 2002, it didn’t set off any alarm bells. “Ambrosia beetles rarely damage healthy trees, so this find was initially considered unimportant. But the subsequent epidemic of laurel wilt in the Southeast has caused a re-examination of the significance of these…  More 

Sassafras and Laurel Wilt Disease

The scent of a crushed sassafras leaf is unforgettable – sweet, pungent, fragrant. If you have never plucked one of the leaves and rolled it around between your fingers, you should. “Sassafras is susceptible to laurel wilt disease,” says U.S. Forest Service research mathematical statistician KaDonna Randolph. “The disease has not reached the heart of…  More 

Recovering from Laurel Wilt

Originally from Asia, the redbay ambrosia beetle and the fungus it carries in its jaws have found a new home in the southern United States. Eradication is impossible at this point, and the fungus causes laurel wilt, a highly destructive disease that affects redbay, swamp bay, sassafras, avocado, and pondberry – as well as every other…  More