A Key to Common Landscape Palm Disorders and Diseases in the Continental United States

To use this key effectively, you must : 

  • a) know how the palm species looks normally (when it is healthy)
  • b) closely examine the entire palm from the top of the canopy to the soil line
  • c) note the portion of the palm that does not look “normal.” 

The key is divided into five major headings based on location of observed symptoms: 

  • 1) entire canopy (most or all leaves)
  • 2) oldest leaves only
  • 3) youngest leaves only
  • 4) flowers and fruits
  • 5) trunk.

Once you have noted location of observed symptoms, go to that portion of the key and compare observed symptoms to those described.  When you find a symptom that matches, click on the photo link (Fig. xx) to compare with your sample.  Also click on the document link (http://xxx) for more information on the disease or disorder.  Some diseases and disorders have multiple symptoms on multiple parts of the palm.  The presence of more than one symptom helps to verify your field diagnosis, and, if laboratory confirmation is required, determine the tissue to be sampled.

Four terms used throughout the key include chlorotic or chlorosis (loss of chlorophyll; leaf is a shade of yellow) and necrotic or necrosis (dead; tissue is shade of brown or black or gray).  The oldest leaves are those in the bottom quarter of the canopy, whereas the youngest leaves are those in the top quarter of the canopy.  The spear leaf is the youngest, unopened leaf.  Refer to http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PP166 for further information about field and laboratory diagnostic interpretations for palms.

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