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IDOA SEEKS TO DECLARE BOXWOOD BLIGHT A NUISANCE IN ILLINOIS

The Illinois Department of Agriculture plans to initiate the required regulatory steps to declare any plants infected with Boxwood Blight a nuisance in the State of Illinois.

A public information meeting has been scheduled to discuss the Department’s intent to declare Boxwood Blight a nuisance in the State of Illinois. This meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 28 at 10 AM at the Illinois Department of Agriculture Building, 801 E. Sangamon Avenue, Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL 62702. The meeting is required under the Insect Pest and Plant Disease Act.  At the meeting, the public is invited to offer testimony regarding whether such a declaration is deemed an appropriate response to this issue impacting our state.

Boxwood Blight has recently been detected in three counties in Illinois (Cook, Lake, and Clinton). If declared a nuisance, it will be required that infected plants be eradicated according to department guidelines.

Boxwood Blight (Calonectria pseudonaviculata) only affects Boxwood, Pachysandra, and Sarcococca plants, a common shrub used in landscape designs throughout the state, and can be fatal, especially to young plants. Defoliation, stem cankers, and leaf spots, which occur as light or dark brown circular lesions surrounded by a yellow ring are the main symptoms. Stem cankers appear dark brown or black in a linear or diamond shape and are easiest to see on new tissue. Defoliation is usually the final symptom. To prevent the spread of this fungal disease, interstate transport of know affected or suspect plants or material is discouraged, along with increased attention to sanitation of equipment and tools.

“Although Boxwood Blight might be considered a nuisance, you shouldn’t be worried if you currently have Boxwood in your landscaping,” said Warren Goetsch, Deputy Director, Illinois Department of Agriculture.  “The affected plants were sourced from out of state, and at this time we do not believe this is a widespread or established problem in Illinois.”

This is not a new pathogen to the United States. It was originally discovered in 2011 and has been found in 20 states across the country. The Department is proactively working with industry professionals to educate the public about this pathogen, including the proper form of disposal of infected plants.

“The Illinois Green Industry Association — representing growers and nurseries, garden centers and retailers and landscape professionals throughout the state — has been working with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to establish the best approach for protecting our industry, along with the Illinois landscape, from this disease,” said Joe Khayyat, Executive Director of the Illinois Green Industry Association.

“We feel the open channels of communication have led to the best available strategy for our growers and dealers, while putting in layers of protection to prevent the further introduction and spread of this potentially devastating pest throughout the state.”

More information regarding Boxwood Blight is available online:
Illinois Department of Agriculture: www.agr.state.il.us/boxwoodblight
Illinois Green Industry Association: www.illinoisgreen.net/