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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

BEWARE: Silly String Attack!

Silly string?  NO!  Citrus trees beware!  This highly invasive parasitic plant attacks and grows over ornamental shrubs and fruit trees with a preference for citrus, but its non-discriminating taste also includes annuals, perennials and native trees such as oaks and willows.   This mess of thick spaghetti with leafless twining threads, wraps around host stems to form a dense mat; if it doesn't kill the host, the weakened state of the infected plant will predispose it to diseases, insects and nematode invasions.

This weed is under an eradication program in California and has spread to more than a dozen California counties including Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, Fresno, Los Angeles, Merced, Sacramento, Shasta, Solano, Sutter, Tulare, Yolo, and Yuba. It has also been a major problem in Texas.

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU SEE THIS?  Do not try to control it yourself.  Report it to Yolo County Agricultural biologist Bill Lyon at 530-666-8140.  Curious?  Find out more about this weed on the UC Davis IPM website.

Thank you to the University of California Cooperative Extension Yolo County Master Gardeners for shedding some light on this parasite.  This content is paraphrased from a Spring 2011 feature by Diana Morse appearing in their newsletter, "The Yolo Gardener."  

To check out some of their past issues, go here.  Interested in signing up to receive quarterly news via email from this wonderful resource, enter your address into the box at the top of the page.

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