Dead flowers

“Necrotic inflorescence” — dead flowers — on a coconut palm infected with lethal bronzing disease.

By DANIEL SUTPHIN

Staff Writer

Keep your postcards handy — palm trees and Florida beach scenes are at risk due to an invasive insect-driven disease called lethal bronzing.

Charlotte County has had 16 confirmed cases, according to Ralph Mitchell, local extension director for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences with the University of Florida.

“It is lethal,” Mitchell said.

Sabal palms are susceptible to the disease. They are also known as cabbage-palm, palmetto, cabbage palmetto, blue palmetto, Carolina palmetto, common palmetto, swamp cabbage and sabal palm.

“It’s one thing to treat palms,” Mitchell said. “Sabal palms are another thing. Hopefully, a lot of invasive things like other insects will depress it or stop it.”

Lethal bronzing has been found in parts of Texas and throughout the Caribbean. According to the UF IFAS, “lethal bronzing” was previously called “Texas Phoenix Palm Decline” and is a relatively new bacterial disease (called a phytoplasma) that is causing significant palm losses in Palm Beach County.

The symptoms are similar to lethal yellowing, but affect a much smaller number of palm species.

“It is here in Charlotte County,” Mitchell said.

Email: daniel.sutphin@yoursun.com

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