Gumbo-limbo trees struggle with three new dieback plagues: puzzling witches’-broom symptoms, croton scale, and rugose spiraling whitefly

Douglas L. Caldwell, Aaron J. Palmateer


In 2013, gumbo limbo trees, Bursera simaruba (L.) Sarg., in south Florida were under siege with three dieback plagues: a witches’-broom symptom or rosette-type symptom of the terminal buds and two new, aggressive insect pests, the croton scale (Phalacrococcus howertoni Hodges & Hodgson) and the rugose spiraling whitefly (Aleurodicus rugioperculatus Martin). Samples from 16 trees exhibiting witches’-broom were tested for phytoplasma infection. A phytoplasma infection matching a ‘Candidatus phytoplasma asteris’-related stain, previously classified as a subgroup 16SrI-B member, was reliably detected in only one tree thus ruling out phytoplasmas as the primary cause of this symptom. Other fungal pathogens are discussed.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283