Archive | April, 2012

Citrus greening, and what else?

24 Apr

Citrus greening was detected in Texas in my first month working in Texas. On January 13, 2012, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the first detection in Texas of citrus greening, an extremely destructive plant disease that threatens the state’s citrus industry.


The green industry moves a lot of plant materials, most time not with soil, but with soilless media. When doing so, we need to pay attention to the quarantined pests and noxious plants. You may wonder, ‘what about invasive plants?’ We will mention that.

There are 15 quarantined pests that may more or less affect the green industry in Texas (Table). Plants, plant parts for propagation and growing media (most time, ‘soil’) originating from quarantined areas are prohibited entry into or through Texas, but there are some exceptions.

For instance, to prevent spreading of burrowing nematode, B&B plant materials (you do see ‘soil’ in B&B, right?) from Florida will need to be inspected by the quarantine service there and certified that that the quarantine plants, propagative plant parts and growing media have been sampled and determined by laboratory assay to be free of burrowing nematode not more than two months prior to shipment and protected from nematode infestation until shipped.

Another example of quarantine exceptions would be camellia flower blight. All camellia plants from all areas outside of Texas are quarantined, but camellia plants with buds showing no trace of color may enter Texas provided a certificate issued by an authorized inspector of the state of origin accompanies each shipment stating that no color is showing in the buds of the plant.

The quarantined items not only include the infested plants, plant parts and soil, but also include “tools used in pruning and handling” in the case of date palm lethal decline, logs and stumpwood in the case of red imported fire ants, and used railroad cross ties in the case of Formosan subterranean termite, among others. 

‘Quarantine’ may sound scary, but normally plants with a phytosanitary certificate could be transported (not in the case of citrus greening, though).

Table. Quarantined pests, area and items.

Quarantined Pest

Quarantined Area

Quarantined Items

Burrowing nematode Radopholus similis

FL, HI, and PR

All plants and plant parts with roots, all parts of plants produced below the ground or soil level, and all soil and potting media

Camellia flower blight Sclerotinia camellia

Outside of TX


Camellia plants that are potted, or balled with soil on roots; Camellia flower buds showing color; open Camellia flowers; or cut Camellia flowers

Caribbean fruit fly

Anastrepha suspensa

PR, FL and other areas infested

Fruits or berries and many vegetables and fruits from the quarantined areas (

Date palm lethal decline

Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces, and Willacy counties of TX; part of Kleberg County; FL.

Canary Island date palm, Phoenix canariensis; silver date palm, Phoenix sylvestris; queen palm, Syagrus romanzoffiana; cabbage palm or sabal palm, Sabal palmetto; and the date palm, Phoenix dactylifera;

Tools used in pruning and handling

Lethal yellowing

FL, PR and Guam

Many palm and sod species (

European brown garden snail

Helix aspersa

AZ and CA

Horticultural and nursery stock with roots in soil and growing media

Red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta

Many counties in TX

Soil, compost, decomposed manure, humus, muck, and peat, separately or with other things; Plants with roots with soil attached;

 Grass sod; Baled hay and baled straw stored in direct contact with the ground; Logs, pulpwood, and stumpwood; and  used mechanized soil-moving equipment.

European corn borer

Pyrausta nubilalis

Many states and many counties in TX

Swiss chard, and rhubarb (cut or plants with roots), cut flowers and entire plants of aster, chrysanthemum, calendula, cosmos, hollyhock, marigold, zinnia, Japanese hop, dahlia (except tubers without stems), and gladiolus (except corms without stems)

Pecan weevil Curculio caryae

Eddy and Chaves Counties, NM, and all other states and districts of the US except AZ, CA, and the remainder of NM; TX (except El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio).

All hickory, pecan, and walnut trees and parts thereof, except extracted nut meats

Sweet potato weevil

Cylas formicarius

FL and many counties in AL, AR, GA, LA, MS, SC and TX


All sweet potato roots or tubers, plants, vines, or parts thereof; any vines or roots of other plants belonging to the genus Ipomoea; and any containers or bins used in the transportation of sweet potatoes

Diaprepes root weevil 

Diaprepes abbreviatus 

PR, West Indies, and many counties in FL and TX.

Soil, sand, or gravel separately or combined with other potting media;  all propagation material including all plants and plant parts;

 citrus plants and all other plants capable of hosting the quarantined pest; and

all nursery stock and field grown ornamentals that are potted or balled and burlaped

Formosan subterranean termite 

Coptotermes formosanus 

FL, HI, and many counties in TX, AL, CA, MS, NC, and SC

Used railroad cross ties

Asian cycad scale 

Aulacaspsis yasumatsui 

FL, HI, PR and  the TX counties of Bexar, Cameron, Fort Bend, Harris, Hidalgo, Jefferson, Montgomery, Nueces and Waller

Cycad plants belonging to genera Cycas, Dioon, Encephalartos, Macrozamia, Microcycas and Stangeria 

Red palm mite 

Raoiella indica 

Broward, Collier, Dade, Lee, Martin, Monroe, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie counties in FL

Many palm, banana plants and other tropical plants

Citrus greening, spread by psyllids

Brooks, Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Kenedy, Starr, Willacy and Zapata

Citrus trees


Earth day—-from distributing condoms to water conservation.

22 Apr

It caught my attention when the Google sign appeared to be PLANTS today—-it’s earth day! Hey, at least some genius associated the earth day with what the green industry is great at, plants, and flowering plants in the particular case.


Many people have different ways of celebrating their own version of earth day. According to MSNBC, the Center for Biological Diversity had volunteers hand out condoms, among many things, and my favorite is this picture—–a girl holding ‘conserve water’ sign, which I can’t agree more on the earth day and any other single day.


Water conservation is the #1 principal of Earth-Kind® landscaping. Find more about Earth-Kind® here

( and see what other things Aggie Horticulture has to offer. 


Noxious or invasive

19 Apr

There are 26 plants listed as “noxious” including 4 plants listed as “invasive”. I guess ‘noxious’ is less ‘invasive’ or ‘invasive’ is more ‘noxious’, according to TDA. These plants “have serious potential to cause economic or ecological harm to the state”. Unless permitted by the state authority, a person commits an offense, if he or she sells, distributes or imports into the state the plants in any live form.

Many times the green industry is accused of ‘bring in’, although unintentionally, some of these noxious plants. We actually only ‘contribute’ a very small portion in the Table 2 list. For instance, I don’t think water spinach (Ipomoea aquatic) is more a vegetable than an ornamental. I grew it in my garden in Mississippi. I wouldn’t be surprised if you find it in the Asian market around Texas. It’s delicious! For as much as it produced, I can imagine it may be ‘noxious’.

The easiest way to ‘fight off’ those accusers may be posting the list and awarding them if they find anything on the list from your plants. Before they finish ‘scouting’ your garden center or holding area, they’ll probably be impressed enough by your plants and want to buy some.

Check TDA website for details on noxious weeds$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=5&ti=4&pt=1&ch=19&sch=T&rl=Y.

Table  Noxious plants in Texas (*indicates invasive plants).

Common Name Botanical Name
Alligatorweed Alternanthera philoxeroides
Balloonvine Cardiospermum halicacabum
Brazilian peppertree Schinus terebinthifolius
Broomrape Orobanche ramosa
Camelthorn Alhagi camelorum
Chinese tallow tree* Triadica sebifera
Eurasian watermilfoil Myriophyllum spicatum
Giant duckweed Spirodela oligorrhiza
Giant reed Arundo donax
Hedge bindweed Calystegia sepium
Hydrilla Hydrilla verticillata
Itchgrass Rottboellia cochinchinensis
Japanese dodder Cuscuta japonica
Kudzu* Pueraria montana var. lobata
Lagarosiphon Lagarosiphon major
Paperbark Melaleuca quinquenervia
Purple loosestrife Lythrum salicaria
Rooted waterhyacinth Eichhornia azurea
Saltcedar* Tamarix spp.
Salvinia Salvinia spp.
Serrated tussock Nassella trichotoma
Torpedograss Panicum repens
Tropical soda apple* Solanum viarum
Water spinach Ipomoea aquatica
Waterhyacinth Eichhornia crassipes
Waterlettuce Pistia stratiotes