April 26, 2016

As most COWS are probably aware, Sudden Oak Death or SOD is a disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of native oak and tanoak trees in California. Phytophthora ramorum, the causal agent of SOD, is a microscopic organism that is spread during periods of relatively warm, rainy weather primarily in late spring in northern California. It is a threat to the survival of tan oak and several other oak species in California.

Symptomatic bay leaves are often the first sign that SOD has arrived at a location, and generally precedes oak infections. According to the U.C. Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab, some management options are available (sanitation, chemical preventative treatments, bay removal), but they are effective only if they are implemented before the trees are infected. Timely detection of the disease on bay laurel leaves is the key to slowing down the SOD epidemic.

The Lab has developed the SOD-blitz in order to involve the public in detecting and mapping the disease. The Woodside Sustainability and Conservation Committee together with the Town of Portola Valley are sponsoring an SOD Blitz on the weekend of May 14th and 15th. It starts on Saturday the 14th at 10:00 at the Portola Valley Town Center.

Participating COWs will be trained to identify SOD symptoms on California bay laurel and other hosts and taught how to sample, tag, and provide mapping information in assigned sampling areas.

The UC Berkeley diagnostic laboratory will analyze each collected sample through microscopic and DNA analyses to determine the presence or absence of P. ramorum/Sudden Oak Death. Once all samples have been tested, a map will be generated highlighting the areas sampled, and the presence or absence of the disease at each location. A follow-up community meeting will be organized when the results are ready. At that meeting, results will be presented and management options will be discussed.

We know there are a lot of oak tree lovers out there so let’s spread the word and all get involved in stopping SOD.

Information about the SOD Blitzes, including past year results, can be found here and also here.

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