Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Ornamental Pear Trees, Large Patch, and Boxwood Ailment

"Survival Tree", a Callery Pear at the 9/11 Site Photo: 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

Ornamental Pear Trees

Mara of Alexandria sent an email about a flowering ornamental tree, “I just read that Sulphur [LA] is getting a Callery pear seedling from 9/11 site. I looked it up, wonder why they did not call it a Bradford pear? I was also surprised that the Callery pear had, and is still, existing in NYC.”

The “Bradford” pear and the “Callery” pear are the same species of tree. The main difference between these two varieties are the branch angles. The Bradford pear has narrow branch angles and is susceptible to branch splitting. The Callery pear has wide branch angles and avoids the splitting problems.

The story of the “Survivor Tree” is a positive one. According to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, “On the 9/11 Memorial plaza is the ‘Survivor Tree,’ a Callery pear tree that was discovered at Ground Zero in October 2001 severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches.

After being removed from the rubble, it was placed in the care of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Following its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010, where it remains as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth.”

Large patch or brown patch, a fungal disease in turf. Photo: Wayne Litwiller.

Large Patch

Wayne sent a clear image and a question, “Can you tell me what these brown rings are in the yard and what I should be treating them with?”

The AgCenter has a publication, “Louisiana Home Lawn Series: Large patch”, and it discusses the causes and treatments for large patch. This document is free and downloadable.

According to this publication, “Large patch, formerly known as brown patch, is a serious disease of turfgrass in Louisiana. The disease is caused by the soilborne fungus Rhizoctonia solani, and symptoms typically appear as large circular or irregular patches of yellow to brown turfgrass.”

“Large patch develops rapidly when optimal nighttime temperatures range from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and daytime temperatures do not exceed 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the disease can still develop when conditions are less than optimal.”

“One way to reduce disease incidence and accelerate turfgrass recovery is to maintain a healthy lawn through balanced fertilization and irrigation and regular mowing.” Some guidelines provide help with the correct use of lawn practices. Finally, this document also discusses the use of fungicides as part of an overall treatment program.

Boxwoods with browning foliage. Photo: Leslie Rainwater.

Boxwood Ailment

Leslie sent some pictures of her small boxwood shrubs use as a foundation planting around her home and wanted to know what is happening with her shrubs.

Sometimes, diagnosis from photos is easy and then sometimes, it is not. Based on this image and other pictures that Leslie sent, the diagnosis could be one of three boxwood diseases:

  • Boxwood Crown and Root Rot
  • Boxwood Blight
  • Boxwood Dieback

All these diseases result from different fungal infections. A tissue sample from the plant sent to the Plant Diagnostic Center will identify the pathogen and provide treatment recommendations. A tissue sample will need to arrive at the diagnostic lab before the weekend to avoid a specimen from going stale in the mailroom. The cost for a diagnostic test is $25, and the local AgCenter office can help with preparing a sample for delivery to Baton Rouge.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

1/20/2021 3:09:58 PM
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