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 

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 

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 

Laurel Wilt Continues to Spread

The redbay laurels that once graced the coastal forests and residential landscapes of the Southeast have all but disappeared, taken down by laurel wilt, a deadly disease caused by a fungus (Raffaelea lauricola) carried in the jaws of the nonnative redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus). Both beetle and fungus apparently arrived from Asia through the…  More