The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), in coordination with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, has indicated that sudden oak death was detected on rhododendron and lilac plants shipped to Wal-Mart and Rural King stores throughout the state.

The Athens Soil and Water Conservation District has also learned that potentially infected plants were shipped to Wal-Mart and Rural King stores in the following southeastern Ohio cities: Athens, Chillicothe, Gallipolis, Jackson, Logan, Marietta, New Boston, Saint Clairsville, South Point, Waverly, West Union and Zanesville.

Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts are working with the state and federal departments to provide support to customers who purchased rhododendron plants from Wal-Mart or Rural King stores with the potential to spread sudden oak death to native woodlands in the region. Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes sudden oak death, has resulted in widespread mortality of oaks and other species in coastal areas of California and Oregon.

The ODA and partners are encouraging homeowners who purchased rhododendron or lilac plants from Wal-Mart or Rural King (March 1 to June 1) to monitor the plant for signs of disease, including leaf spots and shoot dieback and to properly dispose of the plants. The recommended method of disposal is double-bagging, including the root ball, in heavy duty trash bags for disposal into a sanitary landfill. Do not compost or dispose of the plant material in municipal yard waste. Garden tools used on any affected plants should be sanitized.

If you think you purchased any of these potentially infected plants, contact the Athens Soil and Water Conservation District at 740-797-9686, or visit

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