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SPN Southeast Regional Chapter

This chapter of the Sentinel Plant Network provides regionally focused resources about high-consequence plant pests and diseases so that member gardens can monitor, identify and respond to these threats more effectively. The online discussion space enables members from different gardens to communicate about emerging issues with one another and with other stakeholders from the Southeast region such as diagnosticians from the National Plant Diagnostic Network and regulatory officials from the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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Ficus twig disease in Miami

Recently, several of the large 60-year-old Ficus benjamina trees in the Gardens parking lot have had a minor incidence of Phomopsis twig blight on the upper branches. I noticed the initial effects 1 year ago after Superstorm Sandy, when the damage persisted long after the storm and other parts of the tree had re-grown. Samples taken up to the Birmingham Botanical Garden(as part of the 2nd SPN workshop) showed no active damage, but subsequent analysis by local pathologists suggested the disease was indeed Phomopsis. The damage can be severe,denuding sections of large trees. There is some evidence that specific fungicides, espcially in the strobilurin group, are effective as a foliar spray, although we have not had a chance to implement this tactic yet. We can add this disease to a spectrum of diseases in Miami. I referred this case to the Tropical Arborist Guild, a local group of about 100 arborists and landscape professionals in the SE Florida regio. They have indicated that the disease is present in the area, and has been for some time, although heavy storm damage will accentuate the prevalence of the disease. The damage is seen as defoliation on random branches, not so much a contiguous section. The defoliatiuon is persistent, and can morph into permanent defoliation. The branch becomes brittle and can pose an impact hazard if untended. Hopefully this information will be of use to local arborists and landscape professionals. The TAG members are exceptionally responsive, particularly when it comes to disease and pest reports. They act as a sub-set of the SPN, but without being officially credited as such. Craig Morell Pinecrest Gardens