Sudden Oak Death
For detailed information and links to UC sites, scroll to the links at the bottom
Sudden Oak Death Talks and Preventive Treatment Demonstrations
A group of Master Gardeners have received advanced training in Sudden Oak Death and are conducting talks and preventive treatment demonstration workshops in Sonoma County. Please click here to sign up for a workshop, or a SOD Blitz. A SOD Blitz will educate your community about Sudden Oak Death, enable you to detect disease in your backyard, and result in a detailed map of local disease distribution. Master Gardeners will also be at Farmers' Markets and talks in the Master Gardener Library Series workshops (see the Calendar).
A group of Master Gardeners have received advanced training in Sudden Oak Death and are conducting talks and preventive treatment demonstration workshops in Sonoma County. Please click here to sign up for a workshop, or a SOD Blitz. A SOD Blitz will educate your community about Sudden Oak Death, enable you to detect disease in your backyard, and result in a detailed map of local disease distribution.
Master Gardeners will also be at Farmers' Markets and talks in the Master Gardener Library Series workshops (see the Calendar).
Master Gardeners Conduct Periodic Sudden Oak Death 'Blitzes'
Sonoma County has been especially hard hit by Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a serious exotic disease, is threatening the survival of tanoak and several oak species in California. Currently SOD is found in 14 coastal California counties, from Monterey to Humboldt. While patchy in distribution, with each passing year, the swath of infection continues to become more contiguous.
Specially trained Master Gardeners, in conjunction with U. C. Berkeley faculty, periodically host events to document the presence and spread of Sudden Oak Death especially in unmapped areas of Sonoma County--this is referred to as the SOD "Blitz". Residents, who volunteer for these blitzes, will act as scientists in collecting samples of SOD hosts such as tanoak and bay laurel leaves throughout the county. The tests are free and the samples can be taken from trees in areas you are interested in, even your own backyard.
Interested volunteers will then be given an overview of SOD and the procedures for collecting the leaves by UC Master Gardener specialists on the disease. At your leisure, and at a location of your choice, you make the collection then return the leaf samples to us the next day. The samples will then be sent to UC Berkeley forest pathology lab for analysis. When the results are in and the data compiled, the volunteers will be invited back to discuss the results and what they mean for Sonoma County. Look for more information on the blitz on the calendar , call the Master Gardener office at 565-2608 or read further below.
See Calendar for future SOD events in Sonoma County
A talk by Dr. David Rizzo on Sudden Oak Death, click the arrow above to watch the video. This lecture is an excellent overview of Sudden Oak Death in California. Dave Rizzo's plant pathology lab at UC Davis has been involved in research on Sudden Oak Death since people first noticed tanoaks and oaks dying mysteriously in the SF Bay area in the 1990s. He and his lab played a large role in discovering and naming Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes the disease, and they continue to research the pathogen. This half-hour talk was presented to a Santa Rosa audience in October, 2007. Produced by Tola Bein.
Sudden Oak Death Overview
Possible long term threats include a change in species composition in infested forests and therefore, in ecosystem functioning; loss of food sources for wildlife; a change in fire frequency or intensity; and decreased water quality due to an increase in exposed soil surfaces.
Sudden oak death has been found as far north in the state as Humboldt County and as far south as Big Sur in Monterey County. To date, SOD has been identified in 14 California counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa, Clara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Mendocino. Solano. In Oregon, Sudden Oak Death has been confirmed in Brookings, a small town in the southwestern corner of the state.
P. ramorum thrives in cool, wet climates. In California, coastal evergreen forests and tanoak/redwood forests within the fog belt are the primary habitat. Research in California forests has shown that the greatest predictor of P. ramorum is the presence of California bay laurel (Umbellularia californica). Nurseries outside of these cool, moist areas often create microclimates which mimic the preferred environment of P. ramorum and allow it to grow and spread far from the coast.
Bleeding or oozing of a dark reddish-brown thick sap is the first symptom to appear on true oaks. It typically occurs on the lower portion of tree trunks (less than 10 feet) but has been found as high as 60 feet. On tanoak, the first symptom is drooping of new growth. Beetles attack weakened trees. Wood decaying fungi are seen in the later stages of decline on the trunks of oaks and tanoaks.
Preventing the movement of infected leaves, wood and soil will be critical to slowing the spread of the fungus to other oak woodlands, such as the Sierra Nevada. Plant material and soil should not be moved from coastal areas. Any wood already moved elsewhere should be burned. Visitors to coastal forests should clean their tires, shoes and animals' feet thoroughly before leaving the area. Construction workers should wash equipment well and should not move dirt from one place to another. Ornamental plants, such as rhododendrons, that may be hosts should not be moved from infected counties unless certified to be free of the pathogen.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation approved a special registration for Agri-Fos fungicide in October 2003. It is currently the only chemical treatment approved by the State for use against Phytophthora ramorum infections on oaks and tanoaks. The compound is best used as a preventative measure and is NOT A CURE, but it can help protect trees from getting infected, as well as suppress disease progression in very early infections. Professional arborists, tree-care companies and pest control companies can apply Agri-Fos. It is NOT an inexpensive treatment. Click here for more treatment details.
Similar Appearing Diseases
Phytophthora cinnamomi can produce identical symptoms in oak trees. Scientists differentiate this fungus from Sudden Oak Death by using a lab test. P. cinnamomi can infect about 1,000 plant species. It can kill oaks, rhododendrons and other nursery plans and agricultural crops including almond, walnut and avocado trees.
The above overview was compiled from information on the UCCE--Sonoma County, and California Oak Mortality Task Force websites. Click the links below for much more detail and information, including diagnosis and sampling, treatments, sanitation and disposal, and lists of arborists and applicators.