Arbutus: Can Gophers Cause "Root Disturbance?"

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by letsneck, Apr 6, 2006.

  1. letsneck

    letsneck Member

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    sebastopol california usa
    I didn't realize this was a Canadian site, but I hope someone can help me anyway. This site is the most informative I could find.
    I live in Northern California, on a 3 acre property which has 2 mature Madrones (50+ years) and one baby, about 14 feet tall. Last fall the baby first fell ill. I have read all of the postings here, and it would seem to be the common black fungus, but with a characteristic I have not seen described here. The entire tree is black, but for the new growth, which keeps on coming, and is bright green and healthy looking. This is at the center of each floret of leaves. A couple of green ones, surrounded by black. They too eventually turn black, but the tree is in a perpetual state of little bursts of color evenly spaced throughout the tree. Now, one of the large Madrones, 15 feet away, is exibiting the same symptoms.
    I have lived on this property all of my life, and have never witnessed anything other than vigorous health in these trees. However, in the past 5 years or so, we have seen an explosion of the gopher population. Their burrows are EVERYWHERE! In some spots, the ground gives way under your feet. I have seen that "root disturbance" can be a factor in the decline of these trees. Would gophers qualify? And would root disturbance manifest itself in this manner? Thank-you.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Some groves of madrones up here exhibiting same syndrome--without gophers.
     
  3. Herb

    Herb Member

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    It's the same here in Victoria - lots of people have lost their Arbutus (Madrone) trees this way - we had one too, a beautiful specimen. It started to look a bit sick about 4 years ago and got worse each year - leaves deformed & going black, bark going black as if covered in soot - and it certainly wasn't gophers because I don't think we have any. Most people think it must be some sort of disease. There was nothing for it but to have it cut down. On the bright side, we got lots of good firewood, and we're no longer plagued with the constant leaf drop: but we still miss it.

    Herb
     

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