South Carolina Forestry Commission
News Release

October 19, 2009

Disease Killing Redbay Trees On the Move
Reaches Horry County
Forestry Commission Urges a “Quarantine” Approach

(Columbia,SC)–-The South Carolina Forestry Commission and the USDA Forest Service have confirmed that Laurel Wilt, a devastating disease of redbay and other plants in the Laurel family, has been identified in a neighborhood north of Socastee.  This is the furthest north in South Carolina that the disease has been found.  Before this discovery, Laurel Wilt had been found only in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Orangeburg, Colleton, Dorchester, Charleston, and Berkeley counties.  This disease is on the move.  It has identified in 25 Georgia counties and 21 Florida counties. 


What is Laurel Wilt?

The disease is introduced into the tree by the non-native Redbay Ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus).  The female beetle bores through the bark of the tree carrying the fungus on her mouthparts.  Once the beetle is inside the tree, she makes tunnels where she will lay eggs.  The fungal spores grow in these tunnels, blocking the movement of water from the tree roots and causing the tree to wilt and eventually die from lack of water.  This fungus is extremely fast acting and trees typically will die within a month after being infected. 


How do I know if I have it on my property?

Laurie Reid, a forest health specialist with the South Carolina Forestry Commission, says symptoms of a Laurel Wilt disease include drooping reddish or purplish foliage.  Evidence of ambrosia beetle attack may be found in the main stem; often strings of chewed wood, called toothpicks can be seen sticking out of the entry holes.  Removal of tree bark reveals black streaking in the outer wood. 


If I have Laurel Wilt on my property, what should I do?

This exotic pest can spread to new areas through the movement of infested wood, such as firewood or dead wood being transported for disposal.  Homeowners with dead redbay trees encouraged to keep cut trees on their property.  Proper disposal of redbay includes leaving wood on site, cutting or chipping wood on site, or burning wood on site in compliance with local ordinances.  Remember that by law you must notify the South Carolina Forestry Commission before conducting any outdoor debris burn.  Each county has a toll-free notification number.  They are listed at

Dead trees should not be transported off site to a landfill or off site to be used as firewood.

Additional information about Laurel Wilt can be found at and




For questions about Laurel Wilt, please contact your local South Carolina Forestry Commission office or Laurie Reid, Forest Health Specialist at (803) 896-8830.  You may also call Scott Hawkins, Public Information Dir. at (803) 896-8820. 



 The SC Forestry Commission’s mission is to protect and develop South Carolina’s forest resource.  For every $1.00 invested by SC in the Commission, the industry produces more than $1,300.00 of economic impact.


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