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Why did our evergreen elm suddenly die?

Author: Kelly Young
Issue: August, 2017, Page 107


Q - Our evergreen elm died suddenly last month. The leaves turned brown but are still attached to the stems, which are brittle. Could the cause be Texas root rot?

A - Unfortunately, you may be correct in your diagnosis that Texas root rot (Phymatotrichopsis omnivora) caused the death of your elm tree. Elms are highly susceptible to this fungal disease, also known as cotton root rot, which is native to Arizona soils. The symptom you described is typical of this disease: rapid death during the summer with leaves still attached. Once the tree has been dead for a few weeks, to accurately isolate and identify the fungus from the dead roots is almost impossible. As a safeguard, avoid planting other species that are susceptible to the disease in the same area. To learn more about Texas root rot, and to find a list of tree species that are tolerant or immune to it, read Dr. Mary Olsen’s publication AZ1150: Cotton (Texas) Root Rot available to download for free at
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