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Fatal Oak Wilt Disease Discovered in Long Island

Aug 08, 2016 02:52 AM EDT
Oak Trees
DEC implements eradication protocol following the discovery of oak wilt in Long Island.
(Photo : By Gorupka from Slovenia (Hrasti / Oak trees) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

New York has been hit once again with a very serious tree disease that kills thousand of oaks each year in forests, woodlots and home landscapes.

According to the report from CBS New York, the disease was detected in the Central Islip area of the town of Islip, Suffolk County in Long Island. It has been the second time that disease has been detected in New York following its first appearance in the Schenectady County town of Glenville in 2008 and 2013.

The discovery of oak wilt in Long Island was made after a tree care professional sent sample of four trees that showed symptoms of the disease. The sample was analyzed by the Cornell Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic and has been tested to have the fungus responsible for oak wilt.

Following the discovery, the New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation will implement the eradication protocols developed during the Schenectady County occurrence to control the Islip infestation.

A protective zone was established prohibiting the removal of any living, dead, standing, cut or fallen oak trees or any portion thereof, including branches, logs, stumps or roots, green oak lumber and firewood (of any species) out of the immediate area unless it has been chipped to less than one inch in two dimensions. Additionally, all the red oak located in the 150-foot "red oak free zone" will be removed by DEC to hinder possible outbreak of the disease.

"The infestation is small and isolated making an aggressive eradication response warranted and feasible to address this serious disease." said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos in a press release. "Additional oak trees will need to be removed in the immediate infected area to stop oak wilt in its tracks."

Oak wilt is caused by a fungus known as Ceratocystis fagacearum. This kind of fungus grows in the water conducting vessels of host trees causing the vessels to produce gummy plugs that prevent water transport. As water movement within the tree is slowed, the leaves wilt and drop off, and eventually the tree dies.

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