Prevention is Key: Lessons from Laurel Wilt

Since 2002, forests in the southeastern U.S. have struggled against a disease called laurel wilt. In 18 years, laurel wilt has spread to 11 southeastern states and killed hundreds of millions of trees. A review article by USDA Forest Service scientist Rabiu Olatinwo reflects on the origins and spread of laurel wilt throughout the last…  More 

Fast, Field-Based Diagnosis of Laurel Wilt Disease

The redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus) and a fungal pathogen (Raffaelea lauricola) were first introduced to the U.S. in the early 2000s. Since then, the deadly duo known as laurel wilt disease has cause widespread mortality among redbay (Persea borbonia), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), and avocado (Persea americana) trees in the southeastern U.S. A team of…  More 

Asian Clams and Native Mussel Growth

Native freshwater mussels grew more slowly when invasive Asian clams (Corbicula fluminea) were abundant. The study was led by Wendell Haag, a USDA Forest Service research fisheries biologist. It was published in the journal Freshwater Biology. Mussels live out of sight – buried in the river bottom, eating algae and other small particles of organic…  More 

Chinese Privet, Arthropods, and Bees

Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) is one of the worst invasive plants in the South. It dominates the shrub layer and often becomes the only shrub underneath trees, especially in streamside areas. But insects and spiders living in fallen leaves and leaf litter were not affected by a privet invasion in Georgia, as a recent study…  More 

New Resource on Invasive Species

Eastern hemlock, American chestnut, sassafras, redbay, every member of the ash family, and many others are plagued by non-native invasive species. A new book synthesizes current science on species invading U.S. forests, grasslands, and waterways. The book was published by Springer, and the entire book is available to download. The book covers invasive species of…  More 

Working Together Towards Chestnut Restoration

On November 3, about forty people from the USDA Forest Service and The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) gathered virtually. It was the second biennial plan of work meeting between TACF and SRS. Since the 1990s, the two organizations have worked together on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) restoration. In 2017 and in 2019, they committed to…  More 

Hitchhiking Seeds Pose Substantial Risk of Nonnative Plant Invasions

Seeds that float in the air can hitchhike in unusual places – like the air-intake grille of a refrigerated shipping container. A team of researchers from the USDA Forest Service, Arkansas State University, and other organizations recently conducted a study that involved vacuuming seeds from air-intake grilles over two seasons at the Port of Savannah,…  More 

New Manager’s Guide for Controlling Hemlock Woolly Adelgids

An Eastern hemlock can live for 800 years, anchoring ecosystems from its roots to its branches. But a bug that’s a speck by the eye can kill these giants in just a few years. Foresters, entomologists, silviculturists, physiologists, and other experts have been working together to keep hemlock trees alive and reduce the impact of…  More 

Inventorying an ‘Industrial Flora’

Shipping containers are stacked like Legos. From all over the world, they have arrived at the Garden City Terminal, at the Port of Savannah in Georgia. About a third of the plant species growing there are also from around the world – they are non-native. Some are new to Georgia and the U.S. altogether. That’s…  More 

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