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Laurel Wilt

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Laurel wilt damage -
Scientific Name:
Raffaelea lauricola sp. nov. T.C. Harr. Fraedrich & Aghayeva (Harrington et al. 2008)
Common Name:
Laurel wilt (LW)
Laurel Bay Damage, host Redbay - James Johnson Georgia Forestry Commission


  • USDA. FS. Southern Region. State and Private Forestry.

    Laurel wilt is a disease of woody plants in the laurel family (Lauraceae). Hundreds of millions of redbay (Persea borbonia) trees have been killed by laurel wilt in the southeastern Atlantic Coastal Plain region of the United States (US). The disease has also killed large numbers of sassafras (Sassafras albidum) trees in forests and landscapes, and avocado (Persea americana) trees in commercial production. As of October 2019, laurel wilt was known to occur from Texas to North Carolina, south through Florida and north to Kentucky. Laurel wilt is expected to continue spreading through sassafras in the eastern US, and is a potential threat to California bay laurel (Umbellularia californica) in the western US and to lauraceous species elsewhere in the world. See Region 8 - Forest & Grassland Health for more information.

  • USDA. FS. Southern Research Station. CompassLive.

    Laurel wilt has devastated plants in the Lauraceae family – redbay, sassafras, pondberry, avocado, and others – since it was first detected in the southeastern U.S. around 2002. There is no widespread, effective treatment for laurel wilt. Genetics research is focused on learning more about the pathogen's genetic structure in order to improve detection methods and screening for possible resistance in Lauraceae host species. "We have developed genetic markers to describe the population of the pathogen in the U.S.," says USDA Forest Service plant pathologist Tyler Dreaden. "Knowing which genotypes to use contributes to a quicker, more cost-effective resistance screening process." Dreaden led a new study to shed light on the genetic structure of the pathogen and its reproductive strategy. The research team included Marc Hughes at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Randy Ploetz and Jason Smith at the University of Florida, and Adam Black, horticulture director of the Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation in Texas. Their findings were published in Forests.

Native To:
Probably Asia (the disease vector, the redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus), is native to Asia) (Harrington et al. 2008)
Date of U.S. Introduction:
Redbay ambrosia beetle first discovered in 2002; disease first discovered in 2003 (Fraedrich et al. 2007)
Means of Introduction:
Probably arrived with the redbay ambrosia beetle on imported wood packing materials (Harrington et al. 2008)
Fungal disease of redbay (Persea borbonia) and other trees in the laurel family (Lauraceae) (Harrington et al. 2008)
Current U.S. Distribution:
Southeastern U.S.

Distribution/Maps/Survey Status



Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source. Or, to display all related content view all resources for Laurel Wilt.


USDA. Forest Service; Southern Regional Extension Forestry. Forest Health Program.

See also: Laurel Wilt for more resources

National Plant Diagnostic Network.

You can become a more effective First Detector by familiarizing yourself with invasive target pests and pathogens known to exist in the U.S. If you think you have encountered one of the species or disease complexes listed, report its presence.

Nature Conservancy. Don't Move Firewood.
IUCN. Species Survival Commission. Invasive Species Specialist Group.
Texas State University System. Texas Invasive Species Institute.

State and Local Government

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Alabama Forestry Commission.

Mississippi Forestry Commission.

North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. North Carolina Forest Service.


University of Florida. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.
Electronic Data Information Source - publication resources

University of California - Riverside. Center for Invasive Species Research.

University of Kentucky. College of Agriculturel, Food, and Environment. Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.