King Palm dead center fronds - Knowledgebase Question

San Diego, CA
Question by jafinnegan
July 9, 2006
I have two King Palms side by side and one is doing fine and the other is not. They have been in the ground about 2 1/2 years. The one had dead fronds coming out of the center, which is concerning because this is where all the new growth typically is. The local nursery I contacted mentioned a pink powder under the green trunk leaves, but I do not see anything like that. They said it may be a fungus. Any ideas?

Answer from NGA
July 9, 2006


What you describe could be bud rot (Phytophthora palmivora). Phytophthora bud rot is one of the more common diseases encountered in palms in wet tropical climates. It is primarily a warm season disease. This soilborne fungus causes collapse or brown-out of the younger foliage and emerging leaf. Discoloration of the internal tissue of the stem is evident, often accompanied by a foul smell.

This disease almost always affects palms that are stressed for some other (generally horticultural) reason. It is commonly seen in newly transplanted palms and is most severe in California in palms planted in poorly drained soils high in clay content. For this and other reasons it is important to always make sure that drainage has been properly installed in new planting sites.

I'm afraid there is no control available to homeowners (your palm may already too far gone to help) but you can contact a local arborist who might be able to treat your palm. Best wishes with your trees!

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