Lethal Yellowing of Palms

Raghuwinder Singh, Ferguson, Mary Helen  |  1/11/2018 10:07:01 PM

Lethal yellowing, a deadly disease affecting palms, has previously occurred only in Florida in the United States. However, this disease has recently been identified in silver date palms and Chinese windmill palms in Baton Rouge.

Lethal yellowing is known to rapidly cause palm decline and then kill mature palms. The disease is caused by a phytoplasma (Candidatus Phytoplasma palmae-related), an unculturable bacterium with no cell wall that colonizes phloem tissue. The pathogen is spread and transmitted by the piercing, sap-sucking planthopper Haplaxius crudus.

Lethal yellowing causes a decline in 37 palm species. Among these species, those grown in Louisiana include the Canary Island date palm, Chinese fan palm, Chinese windmill palm, date palm (including the Medjool), queen palm and silver date palm.

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