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Palm Tree Bacterial Disease

Palm tree bacterial diseases include three that are extremely deadly to many different kinds of palms. The three diseases are Fusarium wilt, lethal yellowing and the Texas Phoenix palm decline.

Disinfecting your pruning tools and sometimes an antibiotic can help in the treatment and spread of these diseases but there is no cure for any of them--as of yet.

Lethal Yellowing

The bacteria responsible for the lethal yellowing disease are spread mainly by sucking insects that have fed on an infected tree then moves to feed on a healthy tree.

The insects are practically uncontrollable and are more prominent in hot humid areas.

Florida can have a real problem with this disease in the south partly because of the weather and also because of the types of palm trees located there.

Every different kind of coconut tree is highly susceptible as well as many of the types of palms that thrive in such a climate.

For this palm tree bacterial disease, watch the flower sprays, or fruit bracts. They will begin to turn black, and the fruit will fall early.

The next indication is the lowest leaves. These are the oldest ones and will discolor usually turning a yellow first then a grayish brown.

Don’t mistake the normal course of older leaves going yellow, before they are released by the tree as this disease.

Watch for the fruit and flowers first, and then leaves that should be green starting to turn. This yellowing will progress up the growth of leaves until it finally reaches the new growth.

Once it gets to the new spear and turns it yellow the tree is dead. Always watch the new leaf spear for a healthy appearance.

There are a couple of palms that when they are hit with this bacteria will have the leaf spear discolor before the rest of the leaves. If it gets there first the tree could die before you even realize it was infected.

The treatment for lethal yellowing is an anti biotic given by injection. The medication is called OTC and is give to a tree once it is diagnosed.

The tree will need periodic injections of the medication for the rest of its life. If the injections do not continue the disease slowly returns.

A specialist in lethal yellowing should be consulted to verify and treat the palm.

A good company with more information can be found at

Photo by:

USDA Forest Service - Region 8 Archive, USDA Forest Service,

Creative commons license

Texas Phoenix Palm Decline

Texas Phoenix Palm Decline, TPPD for short, was named first for the state and then the type of tree it was first discovered in.  This palm tree bacterial disease has very similar characteristics to the lethal yellowing bacteria.

Some of the same medications as in the antibiotic OTC and symptoms are quite similar.

Treatment with an application of antibiotics directly bathing the new leaf spear as well as injections is the norm right now.  It is best to consult a professional for diagnosis and treatment if you suspect this disease.

Photo by:Monica Elliott, University of Florida,

Creative common license

The biggest difference is that the Canary Island date palm has been particularly hard hit. Other members of the date palm family, the Sabal palmetto and queen palm are also prone.

The picture shows the 2 Canary Island date palms on the right are suffering from TPPD. The leaves of the tree on the left are green and healthy where the other two have premature browning of their leaves.

This disease has appeared in many trees since its initial discovery in 2006.

There is a lot of research into other possible treatments or maybe-one day-a cure.

To learn more details about this palm tree bacterial disease click here to visit the Florida State University

Fusarium Wilt-Palm Tree Bacterial Disease

The palm tree bacterial disease of Fusarium wilt is a type of bacteria that lives in the sap of the palm.

It makes the cleaning of your leaf pruners with disinfectant between trees extremely important.

This bacterium is spread by trimming an infected palm then trimming a healthy one.

The open wounds left by the pruning should be treated with a sealer to prevent infestation from any bacteria, insects or fungus.

Disinfecting your tools will go a long way to slow the spread of this disease.

Note: over pruning can stress your tree and is a common cause for other insect and disease infestations. Care not to stress your palm will increase your trees chances at remaining healthy.

Inside a palm leaf stem showing fusarium wilt bacteriainside leaf stem with Fusarium wilt

Tim Broschat, Symptoms of Palm Diseases and Disorders, USDA APHIS PPQ, creative commons license

Photo by:Monica Elliott, University of Florida,

Creative commons license

Symptoms of infection are the leaflets on one side of the leaf stem turn brown, usually on the oldest leaves first.  A tell tale sign is the appearance of a brownish or reddish stripe that appears and runs down the infected leaf’s stem itself.

Soon the disease moves up to the next sets of leaves until it eventually takes the brand new leaf spear.

The progression of this disease can be quite slow. It may take up to 2 full years for the tree to die.

The Canary Island date palm is highly susceptible to this disease. Other species of date palms can also be prone to it but not nearly as much.

In parts of Florida the Mexican fan palm and the queen palms seem highly susceptible.

Knowing more about palm tree bacterial diseases will help in diagnosing potential problems, and maybe even in which trees you choose to grow in your backyard paradise.

I can't include them all but the ones listed here are the most common.

More common problems growing palm trees

  • Palm Tree Pests  Palm tree pests mainly consist of insects. I’ll go through each bug by name, what the symptoms of infestation look like and how to treat once diagnosed.
  • Palm Tree Fungal Disease  Knowing the different palm tree fungal diseases, symptoms and treatments are an important part of keeping your tropical paradise healthy and happy.
  • Mineral Deficiency in Palms  Yellowing is an indication of mineral deficiency in palms. Where and how that yellow appears is a determining factor for which mineral it is.

I'm Darla the creator of Palm Tree Passion.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit.

Creator of Palm Tree PassionDarla

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