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Sudden Oak Death

Articles: Sudden Oak Death

A microscopic view of the fungus Phytophthera ramorum. Photographs courtesy California Oak Mortality Task Force

When I learned that the California black oak (Quercus kelloggii) in my backyard was among the species that sudden oak death (SOD) kills, I gazed dubiously out the window at the mulch under my tree and wondered if it was free of the pathogen that causes the disease. What about the new plants in my landscape? Could one of them carry SOD? And was it all right to wear my hiking boots in the garden? Fortunately, for an organism that was named only four years ago, Phytophthora ramorum has received lots of attention, and research adds daily to what we know. Yet my search for answers wasn't easy. I didn't realize when I began that a few questions would lead to so many others, and that answers would often be unavailable.

Infected leaves of California bay (Umbellularia californica)

SOD was first noticed in Marin and Santa Cruz counties in 1995, when apparently healthy tanoaks (Lithocarpus densiflorus) became infected with a diseas...

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