The Q&A Archives: Detecting poisonous spays on leaves

Question: Is there any way to analyze if a tree or plant has been sprayed with a poison such as RoundUp. Every year we have at least one specimen tree or plant which suddenly had spots on the leaves, then quickly dies. (within days) There is an order of a chemical near the trees. We suspect that maybe someone is spraying our trees and plants while we are out of town. All trees and plants prior to their sudden death were healthy, and have had daily care when we are out of town. I have leaves for trees that now look sprayed, and was wondering if there was a way to detect the presence of any spray on the leaf or poison once it has been sprayed.
The plants in question include Cherry trees, PeeGee Hydrangea Trees, Orchid Plants and Lime Spirhea. This has happened over the last 4 years only while we are out of town for a few days.

Answer: There is a way to check for chemical residues on plant parts. You can either take a sample to a private lab or contact your local Cooperative Extension office for help. Each county has a Cooperative Extension office and if you're not familiar with yours, contact University of Minnesota at 612 624-1222 and they'll provide an address and phone number. Sometimes you can even mail your plant sample into their plant pathology lab. Check with them for complete details.

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