The fungus that causes laurel wilt (Raffaelea lauricola) has been confirmed for the first time in Brunswick County. NCFS Forest Health staff found symptomatic trees in Brunswick County near Sandy Creek while conducting a survey to determine spread of the disease. Stained wood samples were sent to the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station Laboratory in Athens, GA, where culturing confirmed the presence of the pathogen.
Counties in North Carolina where laurel wilt is known to be present include Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Pender, and Sampson. So far, only redbay/swampbay is known to have been affected by the pathogen in the coastal plain of North Carolina. There is potential for the pathogen to also kill native sassafras, pondspice, and pondberry. More information can be found at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/foresthealth/laurelwilt/
Attached is a current map showing the extent of laurel wilt in North Carolina. Two new grid boxes on the map were lit up (one in Pender and the one in Brunswick) as a result of the survey. The insect and the pathogen were found as far west as Waccamaw State Park. NCLaurelWiltExtent02202012 (2)