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DNR warns Hoosiers they may have purchased flowers containing deadly tree disease

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Posted at 12:24 PM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 13:26:39-04

NOBLESVILLE — The Department of Natural Resources is warning Hoosiers that they've found a large number of rhododendron plants that contain a disease that is deadly to oak trees called sudden oak death (SOD).

DNR says this is the first time in about 10 years that plants containing the fungal pathogen have been intercepted in the state. Inspectors from the DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology found SOD in several varieties of rhododendrons being sold in Noblesville, Columbus, South Bend, Sullivan and Tippecanoe.

SOD is known to kill large tracts of oaks, especially on the west coast, but has not been established in the Midwest to date. The disease can kill a standing oak tree if a SOD-positive rhododendrons were planted within 6 feet of it.

SOD travels in more than 100 species of host plant material. It can cause browning of the leaves in a host plant, but does not kill it.

For a full list of those plants CLICK HERE.

If you have purchased rhododendrons in the last four weeks in any of the communities listed above contact I-866-NO-EXOTIC (663-9684) or call your local county extension office at 1-888-EXT-INFO (398-4636) for instructions on what to do next.

The DNR is destroying all rhododendrons from the source nursery, Park Hill Plants in Oklahoma and from any other host plants that were co-mingled with them. They are also quarantining the sale of four other common SOD host plants for further testing to determine if they contain SOD.

To learn more about SOD CLICK HERE.

Updated lists of infected plants or instructions could be released at any time.